To My Past I Say "Thank You"
For all that has been - Thanks! For all that shall be - Yes!
Dag Hammarskjold, former UN Secretary
"Don't spend your life looking in the rearview mirror." That advice hit me hard. Rehearsing my history was getting in the way of me living my TODAY.
Rehearsing your past is so easy to do. Memories are powerful. The problem with my memory was that it was lopsided and unbalanced.
In a previous post, I talked about the journey from pessimism to optimism. Pessimists tend to ruminate on the awful, the terrible, and the sad. Pessimism doesn't just impact what we think about today. It also impacts what we choose to remember and what we choose to forget.
I had a tough time as a teenager. Living in poverty is hard. Living as part of the "working class" is tough. Coming fresh out of that experience impacted how I viewed the world.
The problem at the particular moment that I heard "stop looking in the rearview mirror" was I was no longer in that experience. But the memory of it was haunting me.
It is a fact: you cannot change your past. Your past is final and done. There is nothing that you can do to erase what has been done. What I was failing to see at the time was that my PERSPECTIVE of the past was keeping me from living fully in my present. (See my previous post "The One Thing That Can Change Everything" for more on perspective.)
The key to unlocking my door to freedom was in my perspective. So I went on a journey to find a balanced perspective of my past. What I found shocked me. ( I will share more in future posts).
What I discovered in my journey came to a conclusion when I finally said "Thank you" to my past.
I'm not sure what is in your past but I want you to know this: you survived! The fact that you survived and are here now reading this post tells me this about you:
You are strong.
You are resilient.
The World needs you.
Whatever bad experience you survived, it made you part of who you are today. It plays into Your Unique.
For example, my parents separated for a few years right at the beginning of my teen years. It was a horrifying experience for me at the time. I didn't understand why we couldn't be "at home with Daddy." So even until today, when people tell me about their divorce my first response is always "What about the children? What are you doing about the children? Please take care of the children!"
Do you see that? My experience as a child colors my view of divorce. For me it is not about the adults. It is all about the children. I don't share that to make you feel guilty (divorce is part of my own past). I share this to demonstrate the power of your past to teach you about your world. And those lessons are part of Your Unique.
So, one of my favorite questions to ask people when they are telling me about their "awful past" is this: What did you learn?
Asking yourself this question about your past will help you unlock the door to your freedom. Becoming aware of the gifts that your past left you helps you to balance your perspective of it. And once you have a balanced perspective, you can see your today more clearly.
There are parts of my past that I hate. I would never "choose" to go through them. But it happened and there is nothing I can do to change it now.
So I choose to say to my past "Thank you." Thank you for the lessons. Thank you for making me stronger. Thank you for making me wiser.
And because I have learned to be grateful for my past and honor it, I can fully appreciate the value of who I have become today.
Trying to cover up the pain from your past - and the corresponding feelings that get buried in your soul as a result - will send you searching for a substitute evidence of your value.
Dr. Cindy Trimm
There is nothing more powerful than changing your mind. Here are some articles that talk about the power of memory.
"The New Power of Memory"
Your journey to Your Unique includes reframing what you think about your past. Be gracious with yourself. Understand the power of surviving. And finally turn to your past and say "Thank you."
What happened to you is not you. Don't let it define you. And don't let it keep you from seeing your TODAY.
Keep reaching for Your Unique.
I am cheering for you!
P.S. If you are having trouble jump-starting your journey to grateful, check out this resource to help guide you - Click here. And I am on day 22 of my 40 Day Soul Fast. Check out my post on March 1 to start at the beginning of my journey.