In order to get to where you are today, in this very moment, you have had to experience all kinds of things, some good, some hard, some happy, some sad, some you want to hold onto forever and some you would rather forget ever happened. All of these experiences make up who you are and have shaped how you see and interact with the world. So when people come into my office and tell me the past is the past and it doesn’t matter anymore I am often inclined to show them otherwise.
Often I see people who either want to live in their past forever or deny it ever happened. What we really want is to be somewhere in the middle where we can be aware of our past and how it shapes and impacts our present but not let it define who we are or who we want to be.
The truth is I don’t blame people who want to forget about their past. The reality, however, is that by taking time to acknowledge and grieve what has happened to us it allows us to move forward and not have our past define us or trigger us in unconscious ways. When we have feelings that have been suppressed they affect us in ways we aren’t always aware of. Perhaps we engage in self-destructive behaviors like drinking too much or maybe we struggle to connect on an emotional level in our intimate relationships. Whatever it is, our past is present with us in this very moment.
The good news? It doesn’t have to define who you are and it will stop haunting you if you accept rather than reject the impact it has had on your life.
So how can you make your past work for you instead of against you? Get a really good therapist that you feel safe with and that can help you understand and process your emotions. While we can always spend the time analyzing our past and trying to make sense of it, we often have a lot of blind spots that make it difficult for us to really see or understand that impact it has had. Having a trained professional help support you while also being able to see things you may not be able to will remove the barriers your past may be putting in your way and push you towards a much healthier, happier future.