The past is a tricky place. You can visit there, but it is not some place you want to live. Holding onto the past, especially situations that were hurtful can cause feelings of remorse and resentment that may be difficult to navigate. These scenes should only be played out in therapy for you to overcome. Not on a daily basis for you to dwell. I know several people who live in the past, and that hinders their present, and jeopardizes their future. Our past good or bad should always encourage us to be better. For some of us it does, while others take their past and use it as an excuse, as a crutch of sorts to excuse their actions. “I only act that way because this happened when I was younger.” She acts that way because that’s just the way she is. Your past does not give you a pass to be a toxic individual.
I have experienced trauma, familial issues, relationship issues, and a host of other things that could make me a completely ruined individual, but I don’t live there anymore. I took the necessary time to work on those pieces of myself. I encourage any and everyone, if you have issues in your past that are preventing you from living purposefully and intentionally in your present – work that out. Therapy and mental health resources are available through just about all insurances. If you are uninsured or underinsured, you can go to www.samhsa.gov or visit their national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for treatment and referral services.
Yes, you have a right to your feelings, and you have to own those feelings, but don’t own them to the point that you are paralyzed within them. It is important to process whatever you are feeling, and work to pull yourself out of that hole. Those feelings can place you in a pit where you are unable to maintain meaningful relationships with friends, family, and most importantly intimate relationships. I’ve witnessed some of the most dysfunctional relationships because the people involved were unable to overcome and workout their individual issues. It is not a judgment, but an observation. I wouldn’t judge someone in that position because I was once one of those people. Ready to jump at a moment’s notice because I possessed an inability to accept constructive criticism for what it was.
I encourage you to set your intentions on happiness. For you to experience happiness you first have to understand what happiness is. What exactly is happiness? Well, I am sorry to say that there is not a straightforward answer to the question, “What is happiness?” Happiness is a series of complex levels that only the individual trying to achieve it can say, THIS IS MY HAPPINESS. What does your wheel of well-being say about you? Think about your life. Which of your day to day activities give you pleasure or joy? Which ones are engaging (put you into flow)? Which ones are centered on building supportive relationships (friends, family, colleagues, others)? Which activities are meaningful? Which ones give you a sense of accomplishment, and make you feel that you made a difference? These questions may help you find your meaning of happiness.
The ability to stop living in the past lies in your capability to find your happiness. Prioritize yourself on a daily basis to find the positive aspect of the day, finding humor, doing good – reaching out to help someone. These things can drastically change your outlook and demand more “now” living. Take time to look at the stars, dance in the rain, people – watch, watch the sunrise, dance like nobody’s watching, dress up for yourself and not because someone wants you to. Make life happy by being present in the present.