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A situation has come to my attention about someone who has been having problems for a long time trying to insist that other family members go along with how he wants to sort them out. He thinks discussing the mess of the past with others will help everyone with their stress, anxiety and depression, but mostly himself. He has been having a hard time living in the present without including the past.
This is a great example of how many get stuck in the idea that the only way to live fully in life is to go pack into the past and drudge it all up. That the only way to be happy today is to find and identify the ‘nugget’ in the past that seems to be at the root of your problems.
In order to see how personally destructive this is we must clear up some things about our existence and thinking.
First, the only REAL moment in your life is right now. Your future is your projection and your past is your memory.
So, the only way for the past to be a part of your life at this moment is for YOU to bring it here. Something that occurred in the past is not real today, but you can make it real by bringing the thoughts and emotional feeling of it into your thought space today. And through the miracle of your thought power you can choose to feel the same emotional feelings related to something from the past right now in the present. It’ s the most perfect re-enactment.
This is how your emotional pain from the past is brought current. Your past cannot bring itself into the now! Unless you choose to give those memories unlimited power in your life to come up at will and trigger emotional feelings at will.
Now I know that many feel the need to go back and discover the root cause of their pain feeling that this is the only way to alter the way they feel today. This is quite common, but so is the number of people stuck in a place of unhappiness waiting for the cure.
Where actually the only cure is today. How you choose to be and do today. There is a decision you must make, do you choose to live how you can live today or do you keep reliving some particular painful parts of the past?
Why most who think they need to dredge up the past is to ‘know’ why they think and feel as they do now. OK, yes you are a compilation of all of your perceptions linked together throughout your life. Since your perception is all you really have to bring everything into your life with, it influences who you are right now.
However, if you do go back in your past and find what you think is the root cause of particular thoughts and feelings, what then? In order for those thought patterns and attached emotional reactions to not be as they are today you will need to make some personal effort to alter them. They are the result of an initial event plus many other things that have been linked and have influenced your thinking along the way.
So, here is the surprise, just discovering the root cause will not make the thinking habits magically go away, all it does is perhaps relieve your curiosity and wonder about how it all started. You will still need to work on yourself to alter the thought ands behavioral patterns. The thoughts and behavioral patterns can be altered by you either way, so why put your life on hold to search for the one thing you think will make you better, make yourself into what you want anyway.
Some may think I am making this sound too simple. They will say, but I can’t think about any thing else, I can’t function with not knowing. These are valid, but only because you have chosen for them to be. You have chosen to allow them to be in your present moment and have the presence that they do.
What is really going on here is that you are shifting the responsibility of making your life all that it can be today, to something outside of yourself. You are placing the responsibility on the ‘thing’ that is may be the root of your troubling thoughts. “This will fix my life.” It won’t! It will only clarify a question you asked and decided to use as a condition to your happiness.
Even the question itself does not ‘make’ you do or feel anything, you choose to place a condition on it that it must be answered to your satisfaction in order for your life to go on. But, you can also choose differently. The responsibility to live harmoniously in the now is yours.
Why are some people consumed with needing to know about these root beginnings of their troubling thoughts? Because they don’t know what else to do. They think that if I can go back I can undo it all. You can’t, it happened. All you can do to change its influence on you is to change your interpretation of your perception of it. And this can be done right here right now without even knowing the details or knowing if it actually happened.
Other people have made a different choice, to not consider what happened in the past to be the deciding factor in their experience today.
You start by forgiving the past, everything that occurred and everyone in it for what they may have done. And this includes yourself. That’s all, that’s it. It is done, time to live today. Sound too simple? Most of the truths are simple, only us humans figure out debilitating ways to entangle ourselves in contrived complexity. And then stress about it.
I didn’t make this up, if you are involved with a religion, what do they say about forgiveness? But you may not be allowing yourself to fully do it because you have chosen to hold onto the past, and you can’t do both! Why has forgiveness been taught for centuries, because it takes care of these extremely debilitating problems that arise when we don’t.
This is how life works for us humans, whatever thoughts we choose to make our predominant thoughts have the most influence on our now. So, if you choose to think you are troubled today because of your past, you are. If you choose to change those thought and emotional patterns for today, you can do that also.
The only way to make your today any different than yesterday is to think and do things differently.
Sometimes finally discovering that root to your problems actually causes more problems. What if you presently think that maybe a certain person may have done something to you that was traumatic and started the troubling thought pattern. Right now you are worried about this possible truth and anxious about needing to know for sure. Then, say you find out it is true, just as you had thought, the person did something that hurt you. Now what?
Many time people in this position now become very angry with the person because they can, they now know for sure. Now on top of the original problems you had surrounding your suspicion you have deep resentment and anger. Much better, right? No, now you are in a worse situation that still requires you to come to terms with all of it in order to attempt to live in the now.
Any and all negative emotions only hurt you not the person you relate them to. Your emotions are completely experience by you alone. If you are mad AT someone, feel hatred TOWARDS someone, HOLD disdain or resentment, guess whose body and mind are suffering from the negative energy? You. Here is the interesting point, you are the only one who can turn on an emotion and you are the only one that experiences them. Hmm, So who can change them?
Danger, continuing this WILL be hazardous to your mental and physical health.
This incessant desire to find ‘the’ answer is no different than other forms of striving where we have an insatiable desire to have, do or be something. And just the same as with striving, if we place a CONDITION of its acquisition we are setting ourselves up for failure. Things regularly turn out differently than we may initially desire. Then our conditional response is set into motion, usually not one of pleasure. The trees that survive heavy winds are the more flexible ones!
As I said earlier, why not start right now to forgive anyone who you think may have done something, in case they did. Forgive yourself for being involved, however you may have been. This is the only way to actually relieve the pressure of the emotions you are feeling regarding what may have happened. Even discovering that root event will not relieve the pressure. Forgive and you can begin new and fresh, allowing yourself to be receptive to what your now has in store for you rather than trying to mix the past with the present.
Frankly if something in the past were so potentially painful why would someone want it over a new moment with out it?
From here you can begin to work on the thought patterns and behaviors that are not in line with what you really want ion your life without the burden of constantly refreshing the past. There are many techniques for changing your predominant thoughts to thoughts that are positive and life affirming, such as positive affirmations.
That is another topic but start with a wholesale forgiveness of everything that has happened in your life and everyone that was or may have been involved. This will help you turn your past into memories rather than emotionally charged events you are bringing up to the present.
High self-esteem and great self-confidence are not supported by dwelling on the past, they are boosted by a positive attitude towards your life’s possibilities. The best stress reliever is letting go of the past. Positive thinking is rising above the mire of the past.
For your past – thank it, forgive it and bless it!
For your future – move on, find peace and be happy!
Forgive, learn, grow and live. . .
John Halderman, a writer, speaker, and trainer intent on helping you get real results from your personal growth efforts.
He supports methods, tools, and knowledge that bridge the gap between information and effective results.
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