“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Carl Rogers
Now I’m not sure about you but when I hear those words I have to admit that one of the first things I think about is the song by Cher! Hmmmm! Whilst I’m not here to talk about the veritable merits (or otherwise!) of Cher’s music, some of the words in this song are actually quite pertinent to my musings today:
If I could turn back time,
If I could find a way,
And take back those words that hurt you,
I’m willing to bet that you’ve said words similar to yourself (or others) at some point in your life. I think we’ve all been there where we’ve either said or done something that has provoked a response from someone else. Whether that response was physical pain, emotional hurt, or an angry outburst there was still a reaction and an outcome which we regret.
The point is we cannot go back in time and change what has happened. We can only deal with what is. All too often something like this can happen and we then keep chewing over and over it, feeling worse and worse. I think Edith Piaff had the best approach with the song “Non, Je ne regretted rien” (No I have no regrets). Regret is an emotion which comes from the Ego. It’s not a very empowering emotion. It keeps us in a place of feeling dreadful, disappointed, and worst of all helpless. In one way, yes we are absolutely helpless in terms of actually changing the past. But we can learn from it.
In order to move forward in life we need to learn how better to make peace with our past. If thinking about something that happened in your past brings back feelings of anger, fear, resentment, sadness, distress, embarrassment, or discomfort, it’s quite clear that you have not made peace with it. It will always be there in the corner of your mind. Like a jack-in-the-box that you keep pushing back down and closing the lid, hoping it’ll stay there. And, of course, it will… until someone comes along and accidentally pushes the button to operate it. It is then that all those negative feelings whoosh back out to be dealt with. Perhaps it’s better to fix a rocket to the jack-in-the-box so that when it does pop out it whizzes off somewhere never to be seen again!
The thing about regrets is that they hold us back. We say things like “If only I had done such-and-such”, or “If only I hadn’t done such-and-such”. The thing is we did, or didn’t do whatever it was.
Letting go of the past isn’t just about negative experiences though. There are occasions when we’re stuck in the past where “things were good” and we may regret or resent that they have changed. All things change. The one constant in life, is change.
Reflection on the past can most certainly help – but only when it’s done from a place of centredness and unconditional love. I hear people say “That’s easy to say, but not easy to do”. My answer? “It’s as easy as we choose to make it”. I know that’s potentially going to slightly irritate some. The fact is, that is the truth. We can choose to wallow in regret, or we can choose to do something about where we are, reflect upon what we’ve learned, and then begin again the journey forward.
The other thing about letting go of the past is, we don’t have to try doing it alone. There are quite a few ways I can think of, easy ways, that can help us make peace with the past:
- Bach flower remedies (Willow can be good here for resentment, or Honeysuckle for living in the past)
- EFT (emotional freedom technique) can help you let go of the negative emotions so that you can review the past from a more centred perspective
- Essences of Illumination/Illuminatrix – the Purity and Authenticity essences are great for letting go of that which is no longer helping you move forward
- Writing down any negative feelings and emotions about how you are feeling about what happened (or didn’t happen) and then burning it. This can be quite cathartic
- Reiki is a wonderful way of dissolving negative emotion and, because reiki transcends time and space, you can send the energy back to the situation to help heal it from then, as well as where you are now
- Ho’oponopono (a wonderful, easy-to-do, technique from Hawaii: I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you).
Talking to someone about what happened can also help, but only if it’s done from a place of centredness. Talking about the past in just a negative, resentment, and angry way just keeps adding to the negative energy of it. It needs to be done from a place of calm, centredness and, most importantly, from a place of non-judgement.
And here’s the real thing about it all: it’s judgement that is one of the cornerstones of not letting go of, and making peace with, the past. We judge ourselves and we judge others. Unless and until we can let go of judging and judgements we’ll find it increasingly difficult to make peace with the past and move forward more freely. Using one or some of the techniques I’ve mentioned already can also help with letting go of judgements.
I’ll leave you with this thought: The past has happened. We cannot change it. We can, however, change our feelings towards it. Let go of any feelings of powerlessness and being a victim. We are all incredibly powerful creators and have the power within us to create the lives we want. We can only do this if we are living in the Now. For remember, Now is all there is.
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