Some days it’s easy to get stuck in the past, to dwell on the things that didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to.
It can be easy to slip into this way of thinking when we are feeling sick, lonely or stressed.
Whilst reflecting on the past can be a helpful learning tool for making better choices going forward, spending too much time looking back and wondering what could have been is often a waste of time and energy.
When you are fixated on the past you are missing out on today, which in turn can be part of the allure. If our current lives are not making us happy: looking back to a time when we were happier/younger/healthier/thinner/single or in a relationship (substitute whatever works for you there) is easier than being in the present moment.
Often we sugar coat parts of our past to make them more palatable. We may have an image in our minds of a past relationship, remembering only the good moments (sometimes to the point of exaggerating these memories) and blocking out the negative aspects. The same applies if we are only remembering the bad moments. Either way you end up with a distorted picture of what happened which could leave you bitter and stuck.
Let’s look at a few things to consider.
Don’t hang onto a broken heart
This one I can personally relate to. Over the years, I have spent way too much time pinning over lost love.
When your heart is broken, it can be easy (and quite normal) to have no enthusiasm for today or tomorrow. Recovery can be slow. Nurture yourself during this time particularly in your darkest hours.
Remember even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time, you will recover and your zest for life will return. Though hard, do your best to keep your sights on moving out of heartache.
Down the track you may be tempted to look back and dwell on the relationship. Why things happened the way they did? What you could have done differently? This is a place to visit and learn from – not a place to live.
Constantly rehashing a failed relationship will keep you stuck. Being stuck in the past can either leave you unwilling to start another relationship or perhaps worse starting a relationship with an inappropriate person, ultimately leading to more disappointment for either you or your partner.
Don’t waste your energy
With our busy lives many of us struggle to have enough energy. Don’t waste the energy you do have. Regret is a negative emotion. Guilt is another energy zapper. If you genuinely have something to feel guilty for, perhaps you need to make amends with someone or deal with the issue yourself.
If other people are trying to dump guilt onto you for their own benefit, do not allow them to use you for a dumping ground. They need to deal with their own baggage.
Instead find ways to invigorate and energize yourself. There is a lot to choose from. Exercise, creativity, connect with friends, find a job you love, help others: just to name a few.
Related post – Stop Using Guilt to Get What You Want
Focus on finding ways forward
Perhaps you didn’t have the education or other opportunities you would have liked? Is this holding you back? Focus on what opportunities are available to you NOW? Could you do some training, a university course, moonlight on your own business while you are still working, start your own business? Once you start looking you may be surprised by your options.
Even if you have to start small – start somewhere.
What won’t help is dwelling on missed opportunities. The key is to keep moving forward. It may at times feel like two steps forward and one back. Work through the setbacks and frustrations but keep moving.
Once you have worked out what is needed to help you move ahead, you need to take action.
Thinking about moving on and actually doing it are completely different things. Following through with a suitable action is what will get you out of a rut. Talking about getting out of your rut – without taking action – will achieve squat.
Set clear goals on what you want to achieve today, this week and this year. Have a clear picture of what you want to achieve both personally and professionally to be happy.
Having a clear picture of what you want for today and tomorrow will lessen the inclination to dwell too heavily in the past. You will be too enthusiastic and excited for today!
Don’t hold grudges
My Dad and Uncle once had a fight. They didn’t talk for about 15 years!
When I asked what the fight was about, no one could tell me. Yet they were both bitter, angry and still not talking to each other. Fifteen years is a long time to waste. Thankfully they got to make peace before my Uncle passed away.
Many people are not so lucky. Don’t be a grudge holder.
Watch the parent blame
It can be very easy to blame our parents or lack thereof for the woes of our world, particularly when we are young. And we may have a valid point. There are some great parents out there and there are some really bad ones. If you had one of the latter, you may need to seek counselling.
However as adults we need to mature and find our own way. Whilst we may not have the sort of relationship we would like with our parents even in adulthood, we can’t blame them for everything either. Perhaps your Mother wasn’t as supportive as you would like? Does that mean you need to carry that insecurity around with you forever? Definitely not!
Work on your own self-esteem and self-confidence. The truth is a lot of people had to deal with parents that were not supportive and yet this does not stop them from achieving great things. Your attitude and how you value yourself is what will hold you back or move you forward.
Related post – You Can’t Blame Your Parents Forever
Don’t live TOO far into the future
Be careful of living only for the future. Live in the present and plan realistically for the future.
I am always planning my next holiday, sometimes a long way ahead. If you are wishing the next six months away so you can finally go on vacation, you could be missing out on what is right in front of you.
Looking forward to things is fine just don’t overlook the good stuff already happening around you.
Seek help from the experts when required
The world can throw a lot at us. Everyone has their own issues to work through.
If you are struggling with grief, trauma, addiction or abuse of any kind, seek out help from a professional. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Everyone needs a guiding hand now and then.
Keep looking forward, keep moving forward and don’t let the past hold you back.
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