Article What kinds of things are you holding on to from your past? 0 2015 Life coaching Motivational coaching life coaching Lifecoachhub Pty Ltd LifeCoachHub
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Forgetting the Past and Moving Forward

TAGS: coaching, life coaching, business coaching, coach, life coach, self help, personal development challenges, setbacks, past, heal, progress, move forward, improve, difficulties

Purposefully forget the past

What kinds of things are you holding on to from your past? Are you remembering things in a way that helps you to move forward, or that holds you back?

Forgetting the past and moving forward

Have you ever tried to remember something - maybe a name, or where you placed your keys - and it seemed like the more you tried to remember, the further that memory drifted away?  It can be frustrating to forget to remember something important. 

Even more frustrating, I think however, is when we don’t remember to forget things that we no longer need to hold onto.

One day I was sitting in my kitchen, listening to a T.V. that was on in the other room.  During the commercial break, there was an ad about some shocking upcoming news story.  Now the actual content of the story is unimportant.  In fact, that I don’t even remember what it was about. 

But I heard something that triggered a memory I had of something that occurred years prior. It was a part of my personal history that I was not very proud of; a time when I felt that I had really let myself down. And, as it often happens, one thought led to another, until I was locked into a full blown mental tug-of-war about something that was over and done with long ago.


Holding onto the past

Of course, it’s useful to recognize where we may have gone wrong in the past. That way, we get to choose a better course of action for the future. The thing was that, in this instance, I was suffering from guilt, apprehension and feelings of inferiority over something that had occurred almost ten years prior.  For nearly a decade, I had been holding a much higher set of standards for myself and living a life of purpose.

Nevertheless, I was really getting myself riled up-in the present moment over this old event.  More than that, I was actually reliving the experience in my mind and body!  My heart was pumping.  I was genuinely angry.  I even started going through an imaginary argument with others who were involved in the original event; saying what I would’ve liked to say then, but didn’t know how to.

How does this look from the outside?

I went on like this for several minutes, until one thought hit me like a donkey kick to the face.  And that thought was, “Right now, if someone were to look at me through the window from outside, I would appear to be a complete psychopath.”  That was it.  After a moment or two, I kind of laughed it off, realizing how true that statement actually was.

I mean, if an outside bystander had seem me talking to myself, gesturing at imaginary people in the air, and apparently having a complete meltdown, he would be well within good reason to call those guys in the little white truck, wearing little white coats, to come pull me out of my house and take me away.

I stopped, and looked at the utter insanity that I had been carelessly slipping into.  That thing that happened in my life was over long ago. It was ancient history. NO one could bring that moment back, or ever do anything to change it. There was absolutely no value in going through that experience again.  I was, essentially, torturing myself for no good reason.

Stop The Insanity!

I once heard a very wise therapist reveal a peculiar insight about human beings.  It was that a person might do a really good job at something, congratulate himself or herself and, after a very short time, simply move on with life and, for the most part, forget about what happened.  But, someone who has had a very bad experience might think nothing of holding on to that event and taking it with him for years to come.

He'll pack the negative event in a little sack and hang it over his shoulder for easy access. Every once in a while, he'll take it back out, run through the entire scenario in his mind; reliving the pain; convincing himself that what happened makes him “bad” or “broken. And, of course, he'll let that idea stop him from doing well in other situations that have absolutely nothing to do with the original event.

In fact, some of us repeat this process, over and over again, without even being aware of it. Eventually our sacks of disappointment and heartache get so full that it breaks our backs to carry them. But, we simply can’t see our way to putting them down. Each one of those little items, inside, is one part of a big story. It’s a story that we've rehearsed for years. We know it so well, that it feels like it's who we are.

Believing the stories we tell ourselves

And, we've sold ourselves on the story. Whenever we think about being, doing, or having more, we almost reflexively pull an item out of that sack, look at it and, immediately, jump right back into character.

The thing is that most of us are totally unaware that this process is going on, and how it's working to undermine us at every level. When a person who is acting out this type of scenario looks back at his life, all he may see are setbacks and poor performances.  Sure, the good times are there. The “Wins” are all there. But he's blocked them out. It's like having a sense of amnesia that erases only the positive things from your life.

And, I’ve actually been guilty of making this mistake many times in the past.  I suffered needlessly, over and over again, before realizing an extremely simple, yet very important truth.  If I was only going to remember, at any one time, a very limited amount of my total experience, then I may as well practice forgetting the bad stuff and saving my mental storage for the good.

Letting go of our baggage

Now, this is not denial, or avoidance, or anything like that.  I’m not saying to block out those things which need to be looked at. I'm a firm believer in being upfront and honest about whatever is going on in your life. What I am saying is that, all too often, we go along unaware of the difference; between what actually should be examined and all of the leftover nonsense. So, we mindlessly lug around huge amounts of baggage that we simply don’t need to carry on this journey called “Life.”

But what if you just decided to trade bags? What if you left all of the negative stuff behaving and started carrying around all the good stuff with you; all of the “Wins,” the accomplishments; the reasons to be happy and celebrate life? What different would that make for you?

Try it out

Try it out for a little while. Make the decision—right now—to purposely forget all of the failures, the setbacks, the hardships, that no longer have a place in your life. Keep the lessons, but let go of the events. At the same time, start reminding yourself of all of the good that you’ve experienced and that you’ve created. Try it out for a week, and notice if you like doing things this way better. In not, you can always go back to the way you were, right?


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