Do you remember the tune that goes on to say “what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget”? The problem is we don’t forget. Instead, we often repress or deny painful memories, hanging onto them, allowing them to haunt our present, until we choose not to view them as painful any longer and to let them go.
Memories are a reminder of times gone by, our personal history and our youth. The bad scenes often tend to fade, leaving only the residual effects that we allow or hang onto, but the good things remain and those memories are often better than when they happened! This is no doubt how the “big fish” tales get started, and is a sure testament to “things getting better as they age.”
Memories of all types, the good and the bad, serve to move us forward in life, to help us evolve to our highest potential. The lessons learned from “bad” experiences serve as the push needed to change our lives for the better. The exceptional occurrences propel us in our mission to discover even more that is good about life. Good experiences help us establish good patterns, and ideally, bad experiences do the same. It’s a beautiful system and a wonderful life when it is allowed to flow, but when life isn’t flowing smoothly for us, there is a good chance there is a stuck memory causing the problem.
To which memories do you cling? When you think of the past, what leaps out and shouts the loudest? Have you released the past to make space for a full and complete present? There is no time like the present, the beginning of a new year, to clean out your personal closet of old, sabotaging memories and beliefs, and to embrace those that you can put to positive use in the new year. If you are interested in a new you and new attitude for this new year, you can begin the process of airing out the dusky recesses of your memory-laden life by taking the following steps to cleanse yourself of the “old” and to make room for the “new” you that is about to burst forward in 2005.
Write a letter, even if you never intend to mail it, to the individual or group with whom you still hold a grudge. Allow yourself to engage completely in all of your feelings around the circumstances without judgment of them or of you. Once written, keep it for several days or weeks, reading it whenever you have the chance. Engaging in this process will gradually begin to release the emotion “stuck” in the scenario, rendering it neutral to you. You can see it for what it is more clearly.
If you are comfortable enough with your feelings and want to share them with the person from your past, call them—but not until you’ve had the chance to arrive at an understanding about what you actually do feel. In order to communicate your feelings effectively, and to forgive the circumstance, you must be neutral about it. Calling someone from the past to attempt to make him or her wrong, or to rehash old occurrences, will only compound the trouble. Call only if you’d like to let it go and let “bygones be bygones.”
Talk with someone who is already neutral about the individual or circumstance—a close friend, church pastor, or someone else you trust that is in no way involved with the past. Openly and honestly talking about your feelings can neutralize most negative feelings, given enough time.
Perhaps the most important step you can take to clear your past is to accept your feelings as your own. You’ve heard this before, but it’s true: emotional healing comes much more quickly to those who can accept that what they are feeling is the result of their own perception of the individual or circumstance. Own those feelings and understand they are coming from your perceptions—not necessarily fact or truth. Our perceptions are the result of beliefs we have carried throughout our lives that may or may not serve us today. When we view our memories, they often trigger old and outdated beliefs. Be receptive to letting those old beliefs go and accepting new, more self-empowering beliefs in their place.
This new year is another opportunity for each of us to change and grow. Now is the best time to enjoy every minute of your life. Don’t let memories hold you hostage! You are here right now and your purpose in being here is to find the happiness and peace that belongs to you.
Choose to jump right into the deep end of life. Embrace change and get ready to charge into 2005 with a new attitude!