Letting go of the past is one of the most powerful things you can do. But just because it’s powerful doesn’t mean it’s easy. That’s why I want to share what I learned and what I did to let go of things in my past that were hurtful, holding me back from enjoying more happiness and keeping me from moving on with my life.
When I was studying Buddhism and searching for a more meaningful life, my teacher said: Imagine you are at a fork in the road, and you have two paths to choose from. You can stay on the path you’re on or try a new one.
Tired of the hamster wheel, I was clear that I wanted to approach my problems from a different perspective. I told him I was ready to try something new and venture down the unfamiliar path.
His advice? The first step is taking 50% responsibility for everything that happens in your life.
Wait a minute, what? What did that mean? My parents were to blame, and that kid who humiliated me in school was at fault, and my first marriage didn’t work out because of the circumstances, and…and…and…
If you’re anything like I was, you might have some resistance. That’s because often it feels better to blame someone or something than to take responsibility for what’s happening in your own life.
I nearly caved in to the pressure of creating something new. Transitioning out of my comfortable bubble of blame and leaving my baggage behind was hard, and at times felt impossible. But I came to realize a few things:
- The more you talk about all the wrongs someone else did to you or all the negative experiences that made you the person you are today, the more you stay stuck in that place.
I’m not suggesting that you avoid a good psychologist or counselor. Working with one can be an excellent way to understand your issues and the role that you played in creating your situation. But stop telling your problems to any person who will listen. Recounting them over and over will only keep you stuck.
- The more you stunt your own growth, the more you hold back your innate talents and contributions. Doesn’t our world deserve the best you have to offer?
- Remember that when one door closes, another door opens. No, you don’t know which doors will open to you, but if you’ve decided to try something different, do it with a leap of faith. What have you got to lose?
- When you open that door, it opens you to the present moment, which is the only moment you can have any effect on. Most of us live in the past or the future, and although it’s been said many times before, the beauty and the magic is there in the present moment.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Kung Fu Panda, which I hope you will remember the next time you wish your past had been different. Master Oogway says:
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift.
That is why it is called the present.
Here’s to developing your full potential and living in the present moment.