Remember that time your heart broke that left you feeling like loving another is not safe? Or that moment you made choices you continue to lose sleep over. Perhaps it was an illness you feel you could have prevented or the accident you didn’t see coming. Or maybe it was that person who left you, or lied or deceived you in some way that made you debate if anyone or anything can be trusted. It was that loss of a loved one that made your heart pull back and question if it’s worth it. That experience that rocked you to your core creating a pain you didn’t know existed.
It’s easy to look at the past and get stuck there when pain leaves an unforgettable imprint. It’s even easier to obsess over an experience and search for ways to protect yourself from having it happen again. When you are experiencing this, the advice is often to “let the past go,” so you can move forward.
However, if you dig a little deeper, it’s not about letting go of the past, but of letting go of the fear of moving forward. We often use our past painful experiences as proof that moving forward is not safe. It may be the belief that if you let go of the pain, you put yourself at risk of getting hurt again. You may fear if you let go of the memory, you will not learn from it. If you take down your guard, you will be vulnerable to your heart being hurt and you don’t want to re-experience the pains of yesterday.
Yet if you turn around and retell the stories of the past from the perspective of growth, you will see that pain and confusion is not the only thing you learned. The past gives you knowledge of how you respond to controversy or strife and whether those responses work for you or not. It gives you clear examples of how you want to be treated as well as how you don’t want to be treated. It tells you stories of triumph over hardship and gifts that come from loss. It reminds you of your strength when you didn’t think you had it. It boasts of the people who showed up in your life when you needed them most. It recounts limitless opportunities to open your heart to love, joy and personal success, when you have the courage to let them in.
If you let go of the past, you also let go of the well earned lessons that have made you into the person you are today. The one that still wants to experience joy, love and purpose, and is looking for the best way to do so.
It’s not so much letting go of the past as reshaping it in a way that works for you. Shifting your perspective from seeing how life hurt you to recognizing how life helped you is incredibly powerful. Not only does it reduce the pain, it fills you with more hope that what happens next is not something to fear, but something to embrace. Use your past as proof that your experiences are here to help you grow and learn even more about yourself and what you want. Allow the knowledge of your past to bring the power back to your present and purpose for your future.
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