What will 2022 hold in store for us all? While this is traditionally a time to look forward, I wanted to take some time to look into the past.
Something I have learned over the last 3 decades is that we can’t move forward unless we let go of the past. You can saddle up a horse, hop on and say “giddyup,” but if you don’t first untie it from the fence, you’ll stay right where you are.
So many of us at this time of year have the best of intentions. We fully plan on meeting the new year head on with our goals and motivation. We mean well, we really do. And months later, we wonder why our forward movement has stalled as if we were tied to a fence by an invisible rope.
It’s because something from our past is holding us in place.
You are Not Your Past
If making peace with the past was easy, we’d all have vibrant health and loving and nurturing relationships. But letting go can be difficult, even though the pain and tumult of prior experiences is no longer in our best interests.
But attaching to the past deprives you of your true potential. Staying stuck gives your power away to those people and events that harmed you and allows them to define you. Your past, in essence, becomes your identity, and it’s awfully hard to let go of your identity. Who are you if you’re not your perceived identity???
It’s time to make peace with the past so that you can move forward in your life. It’s time to let go of that which no longer serves you and make space for that which does.
The following are some of the ways that have helped me and my clients make peace with the past.
Feel Your Feelings
Making peace with the past has nothing to do with sweeping your memories and feelings under the carpet. Quite the opposite actually. Making peace means embracing the past fully and revisiting those old wounds and traumas.
Grieving our trauma and hurt is necessary to move on from it. We must treat ourselves gently as we face the pain and fear we experienced in our past. Feel your anger and sadness, let the tears flow. Trapped emotions are deadly. Feeling your feelings allows them to become unstuck and that negative energy can flow right out of you.
I encourage you to find time during your week to spend alone. Sit in a quiet space and just be present. Don’t force yourself to remember or feel things. They are right there ready to come out. Your job is to simply commit to making the time and space for healing. Show up and be brave, and the emotions will eventually flow.
You may want to have a journal handy so you can write down any thoughts or revelations you have during this experience.
You’re going to face a lot of painful memories. The natural reaction is to wish that things would have been different. But denying reality is futile and will stop the healing process.
We must accept the past in order to move on from it. You don’t have to like the abuse you suffered or the tragedy you encountered, but you must accept that it is part of your life’s fabric.
We cannot change the past. What’s done is done. Accepting the events of your past will bring relief. You can finally let go and stop spending so much energy fighting it.
Find the Benefits
There is a gift in every life experience, no matter how dark, painful or tragic that experience is. As a young woman, I was told I had cancer and only 6 months to live. I spent days and weeks filled with intense fear and anger. I went through my own personal hell. I would not wish my darkest nights on anyone.
But you know what? Life’s tragic moments often become life’s magic moments. My past experiences allow me to serve others and help them transform their lives and health. I had a choice years ago to either say, “Why me?” and feel self-pity and contempt to an unfair and unjust God, or I could find the gift of my cancer journey and share it with others. I chose the second option.
How have you benefitted from your past? Do you have a great sense of humor? Are you a very determined, independent individual? Did you meet certain individuals who have made a positive impact on your life?
Find the gifts in the pain. They are always there.
When we make peace with our past, we can finally heal and move on in life to reach our full potential. I wish this for you in the coming year!