Use the Past as a Trampoline, Not a Couch

November 25, 2016

Maybe someone really hurt us or we really let ourselves down. Maybe some situations really didn’t end up being the way we had expected them to. A word not said, a mistake that we do not accept, or a behavior that we did not expect can create chains in us, making us the prisoners of our own circumstances.

The past can weigh down on us, even causing us great suffering each time we remember it. Looking back or constantly living with the memory of what happened without learning from it ties us to the hard feelings, guilt, or anger without allowing us to move forward.

“The past is a bucket of ashes, so live not in your yesterdays nor just for tomorrow, but in the here and now”

-Carl Sandburg-

The chains of the past

There are people who spend their lives trapped in a moment of success or an experience of former suffering. They live as if that instant could never end and they infect everyone around them with this, remembering time and time again what happened.

Living with your mind stuck in the past does not fix or lighten our feelings. It simply takes us to that moment, flooding and infecting us with its sensations. Whether it is a positive memory or a negative memory, we cannot let go of it. Staying in the past prevents our growth and possibilities for change.

If we get comfortable on the couch of “we already tried this once and it didn’t turn out,” “falling in love brought me more suffering than joy,” “there is no reason to trust because in the end, everyone just looks out for their own interests…” we just sit in the waiting room of our own life as mere spectators of what is happening around us. With this attitude, we choose to be a secondary character in our own movie, at the mercy of others and our circumstances.

The past, for better or worse, already had its moment. It will not end because we thought of it more, nor will it be resolved because we fled from it. But if we confront it, we can build new attitudes and paths.

Breaking away from the ties of the past

Any experience or situation is seen through the eyes of the past, lending it meaning in relation to what we have experienced. Our previous experiences leave an imprint on our present and our future. We cannot avoid it.

However, everything depends on whether our relationship with the past is mediated by chains that trap us or by trampolines that push us forward thanks to the lessons we have learned.

Silhouette Sitting on Cliff

If you use the past as a couch, getting comfortable in your problems, in your failed attempts at success, or in the open wounds of your relationships, you may remain trapped by all those attachments that stop you from moving forward.

If, on the other hand, you use your past as a teacher and learn from your mistakes and your virtues, you can keep developing all of your potential. The past may hurt and trap us, we may stay in it, flee, or learn its lessons. So in some way, at the end of the day, it is we who choose.

If we stay in the past, we will deceive ourselves and create strong chains that will stop our growth, condemning us through blame, anger, or disappointment. If we flee from our experiences, we will create a void that will be filled by our fears and insecurities.

If we decide to learn from the past, first we will stand up to it and then we will be ready to make the most of every lesson that it provides us with. We will break the chains and build the necessary impulses to continue moving forward.

Build the trampoline towards your dreams

The trampoline towards our dreams is built by a desire to learn about what we have experienced. Instead of complaining, reproaching yourself, feeling guilt or resentment over your last relationship, your failed attempts, or the disappointing behavior of your friend, reflect on what you can learn from this.

Jumping Silhouette

How can managing your experiences help you in your daily life? How is it related to the construction of the trampoline that will allow you to achieve everything that you want? Quite simply: our personal growth is completely connected to the relationship that our past has with our daily life.

Let’s think. If I learn to get along with the people around me, in my work environment, or to manage my own emotions thanks to the experiences I had in the past, this will let me focus all of my energies very clearly on obtaining what I desire, building that motivating trampoline.

On the other hand, we could stick to what we already know or already experienced, feeding risk. The comfort of the couch, of the known, of your comfort zone, is extremely attractive and calming. Although there are bits of suffering, what really causes fear is the risk that comes along with jumping into the unknown. But how can we keep growing and learning?

The past can serve as a couch to feel sorry for ourselves or as a trampoline to keep growing towards our dreams. The choice lies in how you think about it.