Have you ever felt down by your past mistakes? Do you sometimes have regrets about things that you have done or neglected to do? Have you had bad things happen to you that were unjustified and unfair? If so, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. I would also like to assure you that your past does not have to weigh you down and determine your future.
It is true that your current life is, to a large extent, the result of your past actions, choices and experiences. The great news, however, is that your future is determined by how you act in the present moment. In other words, your past does not have to define you or your future.
All of us have made our share of mistakes, and I certainly am proof of that. Most of us have also experienced bad situations that were not necessarily our fault. Some of us have experienced circumstances so bad that they could be considered traumatic.
I know that I have made many mistakes and bad choices in my own life in the past and had others who have hurt me. As a result, I have had regrets, experienced guilt, and felt anger towards those who wronged me.
These feelings of regret, guilt, resentment, and anger used to weigh me down and affect my outlook on life. I felt like I was living in the past even though I knew that I could not change what transpired. I wanted to progress and move forward, but I was trying to get ahead while constantly looking into the rear view mirror. And then something changed…
I had an awakening. I realized that my past only had a grip on the present because I allowed it. I decided to accept the fact that I could not change the past and also embrace the notion that I had complete autonomy to make wise choices in the present moment. Another thing I did was to forgive myself for my past mistakes and also forgive those who had caused me hurt. It was a liberating moment for me.
No matter what has happened in your past, you can choose how much power over your current life you want to afford it. You cannot change the past, but you can choose how you react to it.
You Are Wiser Now
Despite the severity or magnitude of your past mistakes, you can choose to look at them differently. Instead of viewing them with constant regret, try to see them as valuable lessons that you can use today. If you have neglected your health, become overweight, gotten divorced, lied, hurt others, wasted time or a large sum of money, etc, you can come to the realization that you are wiser now for your experiences. You are not the person that you once used to be and, therefore, do not have to make the same mistakes that you once made.
Make the conscious choice to forgive yourself for your past mistakes and constantly remind yourself that you have evolved, matured, and learned from your errors. Accept the fact that you cannot change your past, but you certainly can choose to react differently to it. Remember that your old baggage is only bogging you down and preventing you from moving forward in your life.
Contrary to what some people believe, you do not have to continuously punish yourself for past wrongdoings in order to be sorry. If you want to make amends, do so and move on. Become the best person you can be because that empowers you to give back to others and the world at large.
You Do Not Have to Be a Victim Any Longer
Just because you were taken advantage of, bullied, hurt, or treated unfairly by others (sometimes those closest to you), it does not mean that you need to keep on suffering. You can choose to stop reliving the past in your head over and over again. In fact, it is often your mind constantly replaying a past negative event that causes you substantially more suffering than the actual event itself.
You do not have to play the role of victim any more. You are a resilient survivor. It is within your power to choose how you view bad things that have happened to you in the past. It is your right and also the key to freedom.
You Can Forgive Yourself and Others
Having forgiven those who have afflicted hurt on me in the past, I can attest to the fact that forgiveness is liberating. As Ann Landers once said, “Hanging on to resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head”. You do not choose to forgive others because you want to condone or justify what they did. You choose to forgive others because it sets you free.
You can also make the conscious choice to forgive yourself for your own mistakes. Nobody is perfect and there are probably thousands of others in this world who have made similar mistakes in their lives. You do not deserve to serve a self-imposed life-sentence to atone for the wrong you have done or the bad choices you made. Practice self-compassion in the same way that everyone else would like to be treated.
Your past, no matter how bad it was, does not define your future. The choices and actions you make today will ultimately define who you will eventually become. Make the decision to learn from your past and apply it in the present so that you can live the life that you were meant to live. You deserve it!