“Last night I lost the world, and gained the universe.”
— C. JoyBell C.
Even after you let go, the past is still part of who you are. Every one of us lives in the present and makes choices based on some part of the past. This fact is simply unavoidable. You are only able to read these words right now because of your past. Your brain relates past experiences (or learned knowledge) to these words.
All forms of learning rely on your ability to continually reference the past. If you think about it, many wise decisions you have made leading to this very moment were created through recalling what did or did not work in the past. You are only able to do what you can now because of what you learned. For instance, you only recognize a friend when she walks into the room because you reference a past connection with her. In this way, you are using the past effectively.
But when you start behaving ineffectively because you think, “this is the way it has always been,” problems arise. Old traditions may be useful, or they may stifle your progress and growth. It all depends on how relevant they are to the present. It’s your job to make this determination.
We talk about letting go of the past and moving on, but what do we really need to leave behind? Since the past helps us at least as much as it hurts us, how do we know which pieces to discard?
Here are some things I have learned that have helped me:
1. You are subconsciously matching patterns from the past with the present.
When an experience in your life has emotional significance, it gets tagged in your brain as being important. When the emotional experience is tragic, it triggers your brain’s fear mechanism, which tells your brain to remain on the lookout for any future conditions that vaguely remind you of this tragic experience (it does this to protect you from future harm). Your brain then tries to match new experiences with the original one. But depending on how emotionally attached you are to the original experience, it can lead to ‘false pattern matches’ which will inevitably lead you astray.
For example: [Read more…]