THE PAST IS OVER
Most of us carry wounds from the past – real or imagined.
These remembrances can hold us back from moving forward, from leaving our pain behind and can stunt our personal growth, mentally and emotionally.
Take me for example. All of my life I have harboured grievances over people who I perceived had hurt me way-back-when. From family members, to teachers, to bosses, to friends and acquaintances.
The trouble with my judgments was that most of them were ill-conceived. They were just my interpretations and perceptions of people and events. They weren’t necessarily true – how could they have been? I was either a kid or an emotionally immature adult and never had all the facts, but chose to be hurt and placed the blame on others for my pain.
Now, that’s not to say bad stuff didn’t sometimes happen to me. Of course it did. But more the exception than the rule. However, on reflection, I chose to be hurt even when the evidence against my victimizer was, at best, very slight.
Nonetheless, I chose to place my life on hold by carrying grudges and using them to justify my cruddy attitude and behaviour later in life.
It’s only taken 70 years of my life to realize this.
So, I chose to hang onto the grievances of the past and dragged this heavy load behind me like a millstone as excuses for the lack of opportunities or success, or general frustration and unhappiness of my life.
According to my spiritual guide, a book called “A Course in Miracles”, the past is healed in the present.
“Oh yeah! How does that work?” I asked myself, having carried a heavy load of grievances all of my life based on what I perceived had been done to me in the past.
With study and practice, the penny gradually began to drop. I started to realize that the choice was up to me whether or not I continued to hang onto the negative effects of my past experiences, or let the past go and move on.
First, it was necessary for me to give serious consideration to the fact that most of the “bad stuff” seemingly afflicted on me by uncaring people, was my convenient interpretation of behaviour and events in order to dodge personal responsibility, and place the blame on others.
I totally convinced myself of my victimhood because of their unloving words or actions and chose to store these flawed memories and grievances away in my mind to justify my uncaring and self-centred attitude towards others as I grew older.
On reflection, I rationalized that my cold-hearted behaviour was to protect myself from getting hurt again, but I’m sure it was as much about getting even with “a cruel, hard world” and with the shadow figures from my past.
Regardless, what I was doing to others was self-defeating and emotionally crippling. It was taking me nowhere, except to anger, guilt, pain and despair.
I’m still working hard to break the shackles of my past.
Instead of tenaciously hanging onto grievances, and dishing them out to others in an unloving way – I am now trying to give love (in the forms of non-judgment, acceptance and unconditional forgiveness) and through acts of kindness to others (so unlike the old me!).
I don’t always succeed. But when I do, I always feel more peaceful, less guilty and, whoa, sometimes joyous!