“The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”
Rafiki- Lion King
We all have moments from our past that gnaw at us. It can be an unanswered question, tragedy, episode of regret, or embarrassment. Since we are constantly obsessing on these moments, feelings of fear and anxiety emanating from such experiences can hinder us from enjoying the present. Like Simba from the Lion King narrative, we may initially find ourselves running from our past. Until we make the conscious decision to face these ghosts, we remain locked up in the past.
Interestingly, simple things like hearing a particular name, smelling a specific scent, seeing a piece of cloth, or a resembling image of a person can make us relieve these memories. In case of grief or heartbreak, these triggers can make the grieving process longer and the journey towards falling in love challenging. Most times, the person may easily deny that they are dwelling in the past. However, below are the tell-tale signs:
- Holding on to grudges
- Constantly blaming themselves
- Rejecting new opportunities such as a job or relationship
- The uncomfortable act at the mention of people or experiences
- Ever reacting rather than consciously responding to matters
- No plans for the future
- Constantly losing themselves in nostalgia
Advising such a person to move on is easy, but that is never the case for the individual. Synonymous with the Lion King story where Simba finally heads home to battle it out with the arch-enemy Scar, one has to get to that point where they need to break free from the chains of what happened and forge on to explore new beginnings.
How to let go of the past
- Accept that it’s time to let go
- Identify what is keeping you from moving forward
- Meditate on what you ought to change
- Express yourself by venting or talking it out with someone who has hurt you
- Learn from the past but do not dwell there
- Avoid playing the victim
- Forgive yourself and those who hurt you
- Seek professional help if need be
- Talk to a loved one about it
- Make room for the new. If it is a new relationship, take time to heal for the recreation of present memories
As the individual is on the path of facing the ghosts from their past, our principal duty is to support them while exercising patience and compassion.
The Bible implores us to forget the former things and look forward to new beginnings. It may be easier said than done, but with every step towards embracing the present, new memories and a better version of you is born. Instead of running from the past, constantly choose to learn from it.