Dwelling on the Past
To dwell or not to dwell on the past? What is the answer? Is there one?
Dwell on the Past?
Do you find yourself stuck looking back and unable to move forward? Is it a useful pastime or not that helpful in the long term? I wish I knew all the answers but I do not, however, I hope to explore the issue a little and would love to receive feedback from you about what you think.
The past is a part of who we are, the past can even be said to make us who we are. And yet, each person deals with the past in completely different ways. You can have one family with the same parents and in the same environment and yet two children coming from that same family may be completely different from each other. Why does that happen? One may consider an incident a tragedy whereas a sibling may consider the very same incident as great and an event that made him or her the person that he/she is.
Can we completely let go of the past? Or are we condemned to be forever dogged by it? Sometimes this is useful and helpful as it means we do not allow ourselves to make the same mistakes again. However for some people, the past pursues them like a stalker they can not get rid of. It petrifies them and holds them back from living life to the full.
Do you dwell on the past? or not?
Two ways to deal with the past
Overall, I think there are two general ways that people deal with their past
- They dwell on it – This can result in despair and a complete lack of self-confidence as one is forever connected to a mistake made ages ago that can never be redone. Like Ms Haversham in Great Expectations (An extreme example, no doubt!), forever tied to an event and never able to shake free of it. It skews your whole perspective on life and everything is tainted by this catastrophic event from which you never recover.
Dwelling on the past can also lead to regret which can be good. You recognise that a mistake was made by you or to you and you decide never to let that happen again. You can then stop being a victim and choose to make the most of life after the event. People who do this tend to live bigger fuller lives, you hear of people who go bankrupt and lose everything but then go on to make their money back and more, or a bad relationship choice can be used to select a better mate next time.
- Some people do not dwell on the past at all - This too can have varying results. For some, they just keep making the same mistakes over and over again and each time, they promise themselves it will not happen again and yet because of a lack of self-reflection, they do the same thing repeatedly and find themselves back in the same place. We all know at least one woman who continually chooses men who abuse her physically and emotionally. Somehow, she never spots the warning signs and time and again, she calls up weeping about the latest damage dealt to her.
For some, however an ability not to let the past faze them is their best asset. Everyday is a new day with new possibilities. Joy surrounds them, they are possibly more enjoyable to be around as they do not carry any emotional baggage. They accept you at face value as they have no premise from which they can misinterpret your words. It is simpler, it is almost like being with a grown up child, you can hold conversation with them like an adult and yet get the acceptance and trust you receive from a child.