Turn The Past Into Lessons

Carly BensonPractice

life lessons

Living in the past will never change it.  I think a lot of us tend to get a little stuck on things that happened to us whether is for purposes of reference, comparison or nostalgia. It’s healthy to reflect and to process things that have occurred, but to dwell or be full of regret can become a vicious cycle. When we turn our past into our life lessons, we break the cycle and create a better pattern for living.

I talk to many people and one common thing that comes up is that they can’t move on from past events. We allow anger or sadness to fill us up and even when we think we have moved on, we carry it with us, without letting go or fully managing these incidents as we file them away.

Part of the quest for personal development that so many of us are on, whether we know it or not, requires us to get intimately familiar with our past. Not to relive it, but to understand it and then to let it go.

A big part of moving forward in life is letting go. It’s a delicate balance of holding on to what is noteworthy and letting go of what weighs us down. When we become pros at living in the now after giving the past it’s proper attention, we allow ourselves the freedom to move towards the future without our past tagging along.

Our past is a reference point for growth and it is part of the blocks of learning we are being built with.  Everything has significance, but often we can give things in our past too much significance and then it subtly or even radically begins to affect our future by infecting our present.

When we are holding on to something or someone from our past, it blocks us from seeing a lot of the beauty in all that is happening NOW.

I recently went through this process in some of my own letting go, so I decided to share what worked for me and hope you are able to find value in pieces of my own peace making with my past.

What ever you may be holding onto, take inventory of it.  Think to yourself about things that you are just not able to get over.  Make a list if you need to.  It will help you to see it on paper.

Then think about what emotions are tied to that person or event.  Are you saddened thinking about it?  Do you feel anger? Regret? Frustration? Does it make you feel like you are not good enough? Write it down. Get really clear about the way it makes you feel because let’s be honest, everything we think is tied to a feeling.  Everything.

Now rather than think of the could-have’s, should-have’s or would-have’s for each situation or person on your list, remember the facts only. In those moments think about your decisions and what drove you to the particular circumstances that surrounded it. Remember why you did or said what you did. Keep writing it all down.  Sometimes getting it out of your head can be therapeutic in itself.

This is where the beauty comes in. The key is to assign the lesson to it. Turn the past into a learning experience and allow it to help guide you to make better choices and decisions now.

What did you learn about yourself from it?

What did you find out that you want?

Was there something that came out of it to give you more insight as to what is truly important to you?

Look for the positive aspects on this part and allow yourself to see why that event or person helped you to grow.

After all, every single occurrence in our lives was put there for a purpose. There is nothing that happens by chance – the good, the bad, the ugly – they are all allowed into our lives to build us up, tear us down and mold us into the person we were made to be.

Don’t let things from the past haunt the future. Let them give shape to your life. Let them be what they are – lessons, necessary ones.

Rather than get caught up in where we have been, let’s refocus and use it to help us get where we are going.

File away the lesson and pull it out when you need it. Don’t file away the emotions. Feel through them and then let them go. It can really be as simple as that.

Remember, we get to allocate our attitude. We have the ability, in fact it’s our duty, to decide what our attitude is going to be. Never forget that our attitude is our choice. We can be unhappy or full of joy.  It’s under our control. With this, we can create a future that is better than the past.

When we get to the point where we begin to recognize that everything that happens to us is placed in front of us as a necessary part of our evolution, our experiences begin to shift from the viewpoint of life happening TO us into life happening FOR us…for our greater good.  (Romans 8:28)

“Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” -Budda