2 Keys to Living With Your Past

As human beings, we continually grapple with the past, the present, and the future. We may only live in the present, but all three tenses carry many emotions. The present moment might be the only real thing; but it is stuck between the past and the future. Although the past is gone and the future does not exist, both carry a huge weight on how we live the present moment. So much so that we often have great difficulty seizing the moment in the way that I seized the coffee mug and experienced it. Trapped in the memories of the past and fear of the future, our present moments pass by without being given a chance to create new memories and prepare us for what is to come.

from my post ‘This Moment is gone

Our past is past, it is gone, but it was real. As it fades away, we can only remember it partially. We can learn from it and we should but we don’t need to let it dictate what is possible today or let it paint tomorrow’s picture. Let me suggest 2 keys to living with our past. Finding the courage to be vulnerable and to embrace our story.

For many years I struggled to accept certain decisions of my past. Decisions that greatly impacted my entire life trajectory. Decisions that affected other decisions which caused more regret and so on. I mostly kept that inside. No one knew the extent of my regret and inner struggle. Would people think less of me if they knew. It gnawed at me more and more and became a big part of what lead to my depression. There came a point where I had to choose between continuing to live with regret and blame for what lead me to those regretted decisions, or owning my past, taking responsibility for my decisions and forgiving the people and circumstances that may or may not have played a role. I had another choice to make. Speak freely about it without always calculating the potential risk to my reputation or someone’s opinion of me.

I had been able to be vulnerable about certain areas of my life to a certain point, but I needed to take a much bigger step if I was to be free and capable of diving fully into the future while being fully engaged in the present. As you may have noticed, my blog and podcast are a kind of therapy for myself where I can process things, share them openly and invite others to do the same.

What is Vulnerability?

To be vulnerable is to be free,
For within it lies the strength to see.
A chance to open up and connect,
To express yourself and to reflect.

It takes courage to let down our guard,
because sharing our thoughts and emotions is hard.
We need humility to show our fears, and our pain,
To let others know that we are not in vain.

Vulnerability creates a bridge;
A way to bond, to understand, and to forgive.
It allows us to break down the walls,
To see each other beyond our persona and flaws.

But it's also a risk that we must take,
For with it comes the possibility of heartbreak.
Yet, it's worth the chance to be real and raw,
Even if some may not like what they saw.

So let us be vulnerable, and let us be brave,
To live fully and authentically and to pave
A way for love, compassion, and grace,
To enrich our lives and the world's embrace.

Georges (no, I do not claim to be a poet)

Few things are as scary as vulnerability. It is the fear of being seen for who we really are. The fear of being seen and rejected. We might feel like we need to put on a persona or mask to protect ourselves from being judged, rejected, or hurt. It is conflicting because we both desire and fear being known and being seen.

Vulnerability is often seen as a weakness but it takes a great deal of strength and courage to be vulnerable. It starts as an act of faith that we will be accepted and loved, regardless of what might be exposed. As relationships grow beyond what is superficial and safe, what begins as an act of faith will become an act of trust. In relationships, especially with our significant other, the greatest intimacy can only be experienced once vulnerability, with the required trust and acceptance, is cultivated.

When we are vulnerable, we are open to new experiences and people. We allow ourselves to be seen and known for who we really are and learn to see others in the same light. In return, we receive love, understanding, and acceptance. While it may be scary at first, letting ourselves be vulnerable is often the key to finding the deepest and most meaningful connections with others.

Of course, being vulnerable also means that we will get hurt; but if we never take the risk of being vulnerable, we will never know the full joy of intimacy and connection. So even though it may be scare the hell out of you, remember that vulnerability is strength, not weakness. Start small.

To be free from the stranglehold of our past requires letting go, and letting go is possible only to the extent that I can own it and talk about it. To truly benefit from vulnerability in relationships, we must first accept our past. By accepting our past, by embracing it, we are able to move forward.

Embrace Your Past

We all have a past that contains things we’re not too proud of, things we regret and some that hurt. It can be choices you made, things that happened to you that still haunt you, or maybe it’s just the fact that no one is perfect and we’ve all had moments when we weren’t our best selves. The good news is that your past doesn’t define who you are today. Your past is your story, it is unique and though it has shaped who you are it does not define you. We are not our past. We are shaped by it.

Your past is not the end.

When we embrace our past, we are accepting ourselves for who we are, as we are. We are acknowledging our mistakes and learning from them. We are owning our story and all that it tells.

By embracing it, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to move forward with strength and confidence. We are no longer letting it hold us back, no longer using it as an excuse to stay paralyzed, and we free ourselves from the blame game.

Our past may be gone, but it was real. As time passes, we can only remember it partially. We can learn much from it and we should but we don’t need to let it dictate what is possible today.

From my post ‘This moment is gone’

Acceptance does not mean blindly condoning our past actions or absolving ourselves or others of responsibility. It simply means acknowledging what happened and making peace with it. Once embraced, we begin to heal the wounds that have been holding us back, we experience forgiving ourselves and others.

Embracing our past also gives us a better perspective about our life. We can see how far we have come and how much we have overcome. This can be incredibly empowering, especially when we feel like giving up.

If you’re struggling with memories that are preventing you from engaging with the present and moving forward, here are 4 simple things to consider:

Talk … to someone you trust about what you’re going through. Start with your partner, or a good friend, a parent. Worst case, start with you dog or your cat. It can be really helpful to talk to someone who will understand and offer support. Sometimes just talking can help us to process and heal.

Write. … down your thoughts and feelings. This can be a great way to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Once it’s all out there, you may find it easier to deal with and share with others.

Seek … professional help if you feel like you’re struggling to cope. A therapist or counsellor can provide guidance and support as you work through your difficult memories and letting go.

Give … yourself time and space to heal. It takes time to work through these things, so be patient. Allow yourself to grieve, cry, rage, or do whatever else you need to do in order to begin the healing process.

Your past does not need to be your enemy. It is in fact your friend, if you allow it, also a teacher, and a guiding voice.

As I alluded to in last week’s podcast,

“There are things we cannot change but there is beauty wrapped up in the pain and all these roads we can’t take back, there are flowers growing through the cracks.” 

Trey Pearson, from the song ‘The good grief’

Sit in this moment and reflect on your story. Find the beauty in the midst of the pain and focus on the flowers that have always been growing in those cracks.

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A regular dude who remains hopeful in the promise of the renewal of all things. I write about faith, spirituality and relationships with a desire to encourage and inspire. Un gars ordinaire qui garde espoir dans la promesse du renouvellement de toutes choses. J'écris sur la foi, la spiritualité et les relations avec le désir d'encourager et d'inspirer.

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