The other day I said to a class of young people: the past is gone but it’s far from over, and I meant just that. It’s your past and you need to examine it, learn from it and only then can you let it go. I am a firm believer in letting the past go, probably because until very recently I felt as though my own past needed to be buried away and never again allowed to see the light of day. However, letting the past go is easier said than done as any adult knows, and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on this seemingly nebulous formless thing we refer to as ‘the past’.
If you’ve ever listened to ‘prosperity seminars’ or attended a ‘wealth summit’ or even listened to preachers of the ‘prosperity gospel’ *insert eye roll here* then you will, at some point, have been told all about how your future is now, unlike your past which you need never speak of again, you being a new wealthier creation and all if you just say so loud enough and often enough. This is not entirely true though, the part about your past being irrelevant. You see, the truth is that the past isn’t done. In spite of what you may have learnt in the pew or in that expensive seminar, the past is not over.
The past is impacting us even as we go about living our futures now. It is changing us as we think about it, as we collect fresh understanding and pick up previously unnoticed nuances from it. You see, as counter-intutive as it might seem there is a certain freedom to be found in identifying and naming the mistakes of the past just as there is in rightly deciphering and attributing the victories. Knowing why and how you failed is just as valuable as knowing what factors contributed to your success.
Your attitude about your past matters because you cannot truly call yourself free if you’re still living in bondage to your past, if you’re in a constant state of fear of being found out to be other than you portray yourself to be. Adulthood is an intensely beautiful, agonising journey but it is also the best trip you will ever go on, certainly one you don’t want to miss. Who wants to wake up dead without ever having lived? See what I did there? How can you call yourself living when there’s entire tracts of history, your history, you can’t bear to examine or worse yet lie about?
I know now that not coming to terms with your past and not celebrating even the bad parts of it is akin to being one of the walking dead. Every single thing that has happened to you whether for ill or good neutrality has shaped you and if you did your part – learning and growing through experience, it has all made you who you are. When you deny your experience you are also denying aspects of your personality, stifling yourself, stunting your own growth. You aren’t fully yourself because every day you deny your past you kill some part of yourself, and that is no way to live. I know; I’ve tried it.
To truly enjoy your journey through adulthood your priorities have to be straight, your goals set, and your vision wide enough to encompass the many facets of who you are. In addition to all that you should understand that you can’t be fully joyous in your current setup no matter how lavish it is without acknowledging the less than perfect circumstances of the past and thanking God that you came through.
Your past is still impacting you today, whether you like it or not. Turn this in your favour by daring to face your past and accept it as it is, without embellishment, denial or crippling regret. Acknowledging past mistakes is not the same as living in bitter regret, make sure you understand the difference. At the end of the day, living a life of secrecy and falsehoods isn’t worth the effort it takes to maintain the facade. That’s energy with which you could be drawing happiness closer to you. Live a life of authenticity and you’ll be amazed at how the forces that govern the universe converge to bring you what you really need and truly desire.
Own your truth, love it, live it.