Our Habit to Ruminate:
Most of us, not including those who’re lucky to be enlightened, don’t want to live in the present moment. We simply don’t want to accept life as it manifests itself. We begin to over think our past or over analyze our options for the future.
Sometimes, letting go of the past is just not that easy especially when we feel we’ve wronged ourselves or others because of our actions. We think about something hurtful that we should have said to teach someone a lesson, and regret that we did not. But these kinds of thoughts, feelings and emotions lead us to depression – if we spend too much of our time in the past.
What about Nostalgia?
True, Nostalgia is also dwelling about the past – an emotion that wants us to reclaim our past. Like those times when our hometown beckons us. It makes us crave for our childhood days, where we lived dreaming about adulting, becoming a famous journalist or having enough money to buy all the candy we want. Funny, sometimes it can make us want to go back and touch what was part of your childhood, making us regretful of not living our adolescence in those precious present moments.
What we don’t know about nostalgia is that it helps us combat loneliness and boredom. It makes us connect with others because of our collective past, especially, if we come from the same place and generation.
Daydreaming and the Default Mode:
One other way, we often think of our past is by daydreaming. Daydreaming is often associated with being lazy and lacking motivation. But did you know that it has huge benefits to our brain?
Allowing our brains to get off the “always on the go” mode means allowing it to wander once in a while. When we are day dreaming, we start using our subconscious thinking, which means we are making all sort of connections between things from our past and the things we’ve learnt. That’s when we start making in roads into issues that are bothering us because we start making discoveries, finding patterns and finding out new ways to old nagging problems.
This process is called “autobiographical planning.” When we look back at our past, we tell ourselves a story of how our big moments shaped us and we set future goals to build on it and plan steps on how to achieve them.
Guilt and Regret Minimization:
If you are a startup like us, you might be spending a lot of time perfecting the present and fixing the past. More often, the actual outcome of our actions magnifies a bad memory in our minds. “We should have taken a different approach to solving our problem.” But, only after the payoff has happened do we know whether it was worth it or not. Isn’t it?
What’s the alternative? We let our guilt consume us. It brings us to an emotional state of hate; a hate for ourselves and for others involved. We lose perspective, and deny responsibility of our present unwelcome situation. And it ends up serving no purpose leading down a dark abyss of self destructive thoughts and actions.
How to Forgive ourselves and Move on:
Remember, life is very forgiving. It is us, who choose to get stuck in the past and in our mistakes. To over power the choke hold of the past, we can use some antidotes to self-loathing:
Lower your standards: Your ideal life is quite different than what’s possible with so many unpredictable parameters in your real life. So, you didn’t read a book and tuck the kids into bed tonight or were not able to pack lunch that morning. Cut your losses and move on. Make tomorrow a better day! Try this. Lower your expectations every time you’re going somewhere or doing something for the first time. You’re guaranteed to have a golden time.
Cut those thoughts: If you catch yourself lingering on some negative emotions about yourself – the way you look or your past, reliving those moments when you said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing, STOP. Now, rephrase that context and see them as stepping stones for some well earned wisdom and find yourself still alive and well.
Be your own Thought Police: Here are the series of thoughts you can use to mitigate the emotional aftermath of a terrible situation. What happened? What was the expected outcome? What actually ended up happening? What is the collateral? What is to gain from this unwanted outcome? How can we prevent this from happening again? Time to move on.
Combat cognitive distortions: Based on our past experiences, we start to over generalize how things will work out in the future in similar situations. For example, once we’re cheated by our partners, we assume, “All men (or women) are unfaithful.” Once something bad happens to us, we assume, “Nothing ever good happens to me.” Helping putting things in perspective and disrupting such irrational beliefs is key.
Cultivate your mind: Your thoughts determine the quality of your life. Look at failures as just stepping stones. Develop the mindset of no problem is too big to face. Self doubt, ruminating about the past, regret and guilt are emotions that sabotage our thought resources. Instead learn about strategies like Critical and Divergent thinking to boost your productivity.
Read more HERE.
Facts on the Nature of Our Past:
- When we’re brooding our past, our present is holding our future hostage.
- What can I gain from what has already happened?
- Past is a different person, it would have done everything differently.
- Free will is making free choices instead of tying every counter argument to past outcomes.
- One thing is certain. We can’t find our future in the past.
- Even 10 minutes ago is our past, an undeniable part of our history.
- Resisting this moment to dwell on our past doesn’t change our current reality.
- Past does not EQUAL our Future.
Finally, here’s an empowering thought that allows us to let go off our past.
All you have is now, make it count.
Want ways to stay in the Present moment? Read here: