It’s said that the past is a constant work in progress. This means that our past lives within us in one way or another. It’s unavoidable. However, if we don’t overcome the negative things that happened in our past we’ll stay stuck in our own abyss.
Miguel Hernandez‘s poem says: “Everything goes and everything remains, but we must pass.” This is exactly what we mean. It’s impossible to flee our past or the traces of whatever negative experience we endured. Therefore, overcoming the past is essentially to moving forward.
The only way to overcome the past is to look it in the eye and study it thoroughly. We must identify the way it molded us and learn something from it. If we don’t analyze our past and stick it in a corner instead, it will continue to pull us back.
Our past is unchangeable
One factor that prevents us from overcoming the past is our difficulty to accept what happened and that there’s no turning back from it. This may seem obvious, but humans can be irrational creatures. Although complaining about whatever negative event happened in our life isn’t helpful, sometimes we end up doing it anyways.
This happens when we have unprocessed feelings about whatever negative event is haunting us. It’s possible that there’s some degree of guilt involved. Other times we’re having a hard time forgiving an offense, grievance, or a misdeed against us. On top of not being able to forgive others, sometimes we can’t forgive ourselves. Consciously or unconsciously, we punish ourselves for having done something we see as bad.
Reflecting on the past brings up a question: is it possible to fix what happened? The answer is, if there’s still something that can be done to remedy the problem, you should act on it. Instead of acting with repentance or regret, simple do what needs to be done to fix the issue. If it’s no longer possible to fix the problem, you should grieve, learn from, and move on from the situation.
To overcome the past, accept it and let it go
When we can’t overcome the past, we find ourselves in imaginary scenarios. We’re constantly thinking about the “what ifs” or “if I had done this”. Thinking this way only brings us down. We fantasize about possible outcomes and we yearn for a life that we don’t have. However much we fantasize, our reality doesn’t change. We’re only left with aggravation and renewed frustration.
Accepting the past means admitting that things will never go back to the way they were. It doesn’t matter what we do, even if we manage to reverse the damage or consequences. None of our actions will ever bring us back to a yesterday that doesn’t exist anymore.
It takes courage to accept, let go, and overcome the past. Overcoming the past isn’t a passive process. It takes work, and it’s an act of persistence and conviction. While there is an importance to thinking about our past, there comes a time when we need to leave things behind us.
Learn to live in the present
Sometimes it’s hard to say “I’m going to live in the present” and just do it. We have to do more than simply say it. Instead, we need to actively create environments that call us to the present. We need circumstances that make us be present in the here and now, circumstances that demand our attention. Sometimes it’s necessary to build a new present to overcome the past.
To find ourselves in the present we need to cut our ties to the past. We at least need to eliminate as many ties as we can. They say that the best way to leave a situation is to not look back. That’s exactly why it’s important to get rid of everything that makes us want to look back. Rather, we should be facing forward to our present and future. This gives us greater freedom and lets us reflect on our past without feeling anger or frustration.
Because of this, it’s important that we begin to fill our life with new things. New friends, new hobbies, and new interests. This is a great time to renew ourselves and to change our lives for the better. We may not have much enthusiasm at the beginning. Something inside us may drive us to keep doing what’s familiar to us. Let’s fight against that urge and let life surprise us. However, if you’re still having a hard time pulling yourself out of the past you may want to consider seeking professional help.