Keeping Your Past In Your Past

Recently I was having a conversation with a dear friend about a mutual friend who is having a hard time moving on from her former relationship. This person has been apart from their former partner longer than they were together and yet she still clings to the past. She bemoans that he’s moved on and has a new partner. She is not allowing herself to find successful relationships. She constantly compares everyone and everything to her former partner. It struck me that her clinging to the past gives her no room to be in the present or to plan for the future. She’s stuck.

This is something that many of us do.  We live in our past. We base all of our decisions on our past mistakes so as not to screw up again. We are so caught up in our need to not hurt, to punish, to cling or to be right (or all of the above) that we just don’t live.

We should not allow our past to create our present nor our future. We should not look at a potential partner and compare them to a former partner or say “Well, they’ll just cheat on me like so and so did.” We should not expect them to be anything other than their authentic selves. And yet we do just this out of habit and unconsciously. We make up a story about what we think is so, never giving room to what’s really happening. We miss out on so many opportunities because we are so stuck in our past.

That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate our past successes and hopefully learn from our past mistakes. Nor does it mean that we can’t fondly remember wonderful things that happened to us or miss those who are no longer with us. That is all part of being human. And that is different than allowing the past to dictate our present and future actions, especially our relationships.

One of the most important parts of having a healthy relationship is to put the past in the past where it belongs: to realize that every new relationship is unique and different and will not be the same as the last one (or two or three) UNLESS we make it so. This means that we must enter into all relationships consciously. That we stay aware and present at all times and when we catch ourselves reverting back to our old habits of living in the past, we pinch ourselves and get back into the present. That we stop making up stories about what we think is so and wait and see what the present gives us. It takes practice and courage and as I said, consciousness and it can be done. Put the past behind you and travel toward the future unburdened and ready for your next adventure.

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