Ways to lovingly embrace the past and who you are
By Deborah Fairfull
Unresolved issues from the past can stop you from living the life you would like to lead. If you find yourself constantly sabotaging yourself, or feeling stuck in your life, it is possible that unresolved issues from the past are holding you back.
Making peace with your past helps you to experience the present more fully. Negative thoughts about the past can consume you, making you feel heavy and tired. Carrying resentment from unresolved issues from the past (often these are unconscious) can block the joy of experiencing the present moment. Confronting, accepting, and integrating any unresolved issues within you can help to improve your day-to-day experience of life. The energy used to hold down, or repress, unhappy memories will instead be released, allowing you to feel lighter and happier in the present moment.
Your body wants you to be well and happy and gives you lessons to guide you towards this natural state. For example, you might find yourself feeling overlooked at work. You leave and find yourself overlooked at the next place you work. When you stop blaming the external situation—work—and see it as a reoccurring pattern within you, you will be able to make some lasting changes. By confronting feeling overlooked (which you may have felt at various stages throughout your life) you will get to the core of the issue. You may have come from a large family and constantly felt overlooked, for example. The patterns we carry are reflected in our outer world. As it is within, so it is without.
It can be beneficial to heal any former traumas if you did not have a chance to do so at the time they occurred. For example, if you suffered abuse while you were young, you may find it difficult as an adult to trust other adults. However, by coming to peace with your feelings around the incident and letting them go – by understanding the incident was beyond your control and not a reflection of you – it will help you to form more loving relationships as an adult.
A neutral sounding board such as a therapist can be effective to help to release unresolved feelings around traumas by helping you to understand your unconscious behavioral patterns. A good therapist lovingly facilitates your discovery of solutions, from your wisdom.
Acceptance and forgiveness are powerful tools in achieving inner peace. Insight and understanding will help you see that people do the best they can with the skills they have at the time, and this applies to you, too! Seeing and understanding are the way to love and compassion. When we view our own and others’ humanness with kindness, we become more peaceful and loving.
Everyone has a past. The difference is whether you let your past unconsciously drive you to act out behaviors that you later regret or to be involved in situations that make you unhappy. Unhealthy relationships, drinking problems, gambling, smoking, overworking and/or overeating are examples of behaviors people engage in to stop experiencing painful feelings. This ultimately only numbs the feelings and prolongs the healing process. If addictions have formed in the areas of alcohol, drugs, and/or gambling, for example, professional groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous may be required. They are experts in providing loving support and teaching life skills.
Understanding your past and how it affects your behaviors helps you to live your life with greater awareness. You will no longer try to escape from yourself or the feelings that you don’t understand and have kept buried because they don’t feel good. Validate how you feel about things, to remove the emotional charge around certain situations. An emotional charge around something can give you strong positive or negative feelings that can drive your behavior.
Accepting your past helps you understand the way it has shaped your unique character, giving you depth and insights that you may not have otherwise experienced. Life’s journey can be a wonderful teacher, helping you to develop compassion, expand your awareness, and open your heart.
Deborah Fairfull has been both a student and teacher of psychology and philosophy for over 20 years and is the author of Bliss Every Day: A Practical Guide to Find Peace and Happiness (available on amazon.com). For more information, visit Deborahfairfull.com..