Letting go of the past is a struggle that I’ve faced many times before.
From what I have experienced, I’ve noticed that not only did I suffer from letting it go—I also gave myself a hard time for keeping it alive.
I knew I was capable of putting it behind me, but for one reason or another, I just could not do it.
Things changed when I started to reflect on the reasons that prevented me from moving the past out of my mind. I simply had an honest conversation with myself and reflected on the times when I let go of the past easily and swiftly.
For me, it came down to two essential questions:
1. How am I dealing with my present moment?
2. How ready am I to let go?
Thich Nhat Hanh says, “When we touch the present moment deeply, we touch the past; and if we know how to handle the present moment properly, we heal the past.”
You see, the past is a bundle of experiences and memories that live inside our minds and they which—if left uncontrolled—can become a destructive part of our present. In other words, memories are part of our human psyche—we can’t just eliminate them. But it is in our power to choose which ones we magnify.
I like to compare the past in our minds to the mud at the bottom of a glass of water: if left untouched, it will remain at the bottom, but if stirred, it will scatter all over the glass.
Throughout the years, I have discovered that the past doesn’t penetrate into my present moment if I am mindful of it. Like Thich Nhat Hanh says, I will know how to let go of it if I know how to deal with it. When I don’t focus any energy on the past, it won’t control me.
Looking back, the past did control me whenever I wasn’t ready to let it go.
That being said, healing the past is related to how much we are ready to actually heal it. I stopped pressuring myself when I noticed that it all comes down to our readiness to let go of the past memory, challenge or struggle.
There have been so many times that I wasn’t ready to let go of certain memories. Whenever they came to the surface, I would allow them to float in my consciousness as I needed them to give worthiness to my present moment. As a result, I was making myself a victim, which I unconsciously enjoyed. I was allowing my past to define my present.
I know that when I’m ready to annihilate the past, I’m basically ready to also annihilate the victimized identity that I was creating as well as the pain that is being generated out of the memories.
When we let go of the past, we accept that it can’t be changed that nothing can ever be changed there. Letting go means to be ready for the new, blameless present, and that we are ready to invite change into our lives.
Realizing this, we also realize that dropping the past is as easy as dropping anything that’s physically bothering us. How do you drop heavy luggage? How do you drop a rose with thorns? You actually just drop it when it makes you suffer to such a great extent that you cannot carry the weight any longer.
Learning to let go of the past that haunts us might take us years or it might take us days, but it’s absolutely okay. What I know is that we will let go of the past when we are ready. The past can never live within us forever. I’d like to compare it to a fire whose destiny is to eventually stop burning, but, it is up to me to put the fire out out or to keep adding fuel to it. Even if we keep adding fuel to the fire, let’s not give ourselves a hard time about it. When we’re ready, we’ll allow that fire to stop.
In other words, when we’re ready we will heal the past.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Photo: Tareck Raffoul
Editors: Caitlin Oriel; Renée Picard