“Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha
It took me a long time to recognize that every day is a gift. I spent my entire life being angry and bitter with my parents for abandoning me as a child. I wanted them to suffer for leaving me behind but, unfortunately, the person who was suffering most was me.
I lacked self-esteem and confidence. I couldn’t trust anyone and I lived in fear of ever forming an intimate bond with anyone for the fear they would leave me as well. I held myself hostage because I refuse to forgive them and to move on.
I couldn’t see that there wasn’t anything I could do or say that could change what happened to me. I couldn’t go back and change the past, even though, I wish I could many times. I had to accept that, that was the card I was dealt.
Even as painful as it sounded, I couldn’t continue to blame them for every mistake I made. I had to realize that I am totally responsible for my life and my success. My parent’s mistakes were theirs, and the ones I made were mine. I had to accept that whatever decisions I made was as a result of my thinking and doing, and no one else’s.
I had to learn to love myself. I kept blaming my parents’ lack of love for the reason I didn’t love myself. I had to accept that they didn’t love me, but I now had the opportunity to love myself. My lack of self-love was my choosing and not theirs.
There comes a time in all our lives when we have to make a decision to either move forward and leave the past in the past or remain stuck and allow our past to define who we are. You may be at that point in your life right now, and you must make a decision.
The good news is that the past is behind you, and you can choose to leave it there and move into the future with renewed zeal and determination. You can choose to remain in your present state, where you are stuck, miserable, frustrated, ashamed and depressed. Remember that you have the rest of your life to make things right but you must take a step. You cannot go back and change the past physically, but you can change how you view things that happened then.
In order to let go of your past and make your future successful you must be willing to:
Resolve past issues.
You must be willing to leave the past behind and so confront the challenges that you haven’t resolved. You must understand what happened, why you did what you did and learned from those experiences so as never to let them happen again. You must be willing to relive the past for a brief moment in order be able to go past it. Even though difficult, sometimes in order to move forward you have to go back.
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”- John F. Kennedy
Accept your mistakes.
You must be willing to accept that yes, you made mistakes, you are human, all of us do. You also must be willing to accept that many of the decisions you made were not wise ones, and unfortunately others were simply out of your control.
You must be willing to forgive those that have hurt you and caused you pain. Most importantly you must be willing to forgive yourself. It is easier to forgive others than it is to forgive yourself. You must also realize when you forgive you are giving yourself a chance to be free.
Take some time to grieve. These could be lost relationships or opportunities, grieve for them and move on. You cannot go back and change anything so put them to rest.
“The first recipe for happiness is: avoid too lengthy meditation on the past.”
– Andre Maurois
Regain your confidence.
You must now start rebuilding your confidence. You need to start feeling good about yourself again. It is unfortunate but many times your past mistakes will cause you to lose yourself. It will take time but work on building your confidence. Find the things you like about yourself and keep reminding yourself daily how truly unique you are. Use kind words to describe yourself. Call yourself awesome, beautiful, smart and kind just to mention a few. Say them until you start believing.
Rid yourself of toxic people.
Remove all the toxic people from your life, and that includes close friends and family members. Anybody that doesn’t have anything good to say to you or those that are constantly reminding you of past mistakes, get rid of them. Replace them with persons who are positive, respectful and who will help you to become a better person.
You need to acknowledge that you are not you past or your mistakes. You need to learn how to separate your actions from who you are. Embrace new thought patterns, and even though you will still have to deal with remnants of your past you must not dwell on them. Refuse to remain in a negative place. Think positive thoughts and every time something negative raises its ugly head replace it with positive things. You must no longer be controlled by your past.
Plan a positive future.
You now must plan and prepare for the future. The future filled with positivity and success. Although you cannot predict the future, you can make sure that the new person you are now is strong and healthy enough to deal with the struggles that will confront you going forward. Now that you have confronted the challenges of your past you will be better able to deal with future.
“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” – Thomas Jefferson
It will take time for you to heal but if you keep working at it soon you will be strengthened, happy and on your way to achieving your dreams. Do not make decisions hastily even though you may want to make up for lost time. Aim to do things differently now. You do not want to rush into things that could trigger past behaviors. Take the time to get things right this time.
Remember, letting go is never easy but once you have made up your mind to change, you will find it gets easier the more you do it. Also, remember you can start over anytime. There is no time limit on when and how often you can start over.
“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” – George Bernard Shaw
You must never forget to believe in yourself, never accept the negative things people say or do to you. Everything you have lost you can regain if you want to. Make the effort to be happy and to be grateful for life, your family, friends and second chances.
Photo by Lauren McKinnon