The past is a funny thing. You don’t want to be controlled by the past but it’s important to analyze and learn from it so not to repeat the same mistakes. History is supposed to guide us to a better present and future, but it seems most just aren’t using societies past or their own for such a purpose. With the past, most either forget ( purposefully or otherwise), or stay trapped in their past; with few embracing and growing from it. I for one can say for years, or rather most of my life I was a captive of my past. I repeated mistakes, but mostly I was frozen with fear over repeating mistakes. I also couldn’t trust, due to these same past events, I couldn’t let go and leave the past exactly where it was. So today I wanted to say to you all ” You are not your past”.
So I want to be clear, the past is important and we would be nothing without it. I look at the past now as a collection of experiences and lessons, but getting to that mindset wasn’t easy. I had to sit with myself and those memories to first, appreciate them; secondly, I had to understand their purpose for my current and future life; third, I had to see my part in those events, good or bad; and fourth, I had to decide to move beyond them after I got my answers. These are all deliberate acts of healing I decided to take on because I saw how my past was taking over my present and future. The biggest thing about overcoming anything in life is making the decision that it’s important for you to do so.
What I have done for myself isn’t a miracle, or specific to Buddhism. I know Buddhism helped me to want to get to a better present and future, and provided techniques such as meditation to assist me; but you don’t have to be Buddhist to be in the present moment. In my own research, all spiritual beliefs suggest analyzing one’s actions and growing from those experiences, so I do believe faith has a big hand in overcoming the past. The biggest reason has to do with being optimistic. I see optimism present with those that have a spiritual base because optimism is nothing but faith in the positive. Deep optimism isn’t blind faith but faith based from experiencing the power of optimism. But I can hear you know Verizon, “how do I make the first set to be optimist?” The answer to this and pretty much any call to action is to decide.
Life is nothing more than a series of decisions. We decide what school to apply to, what career path we want to attempt, who to date, where to live, and how to conduct ourselves. There is nothing we do that we don’t first decide, even those decisions that seem out of our hands. There is always a choice to be made, just not every decision has the best counter option. If you don’t like your job, you can decide to quit and take on those consequences but the choice is yours. I get bothered by those that say they have no choice because I have never known a situation in which you don’t. What they really are saying is the choice is hard and they don’t like the alternative.
When I think about decisions, I see how most decisions are based on past events, if not all of them. The hesitation tends to come due to the results of a similar decision that had to be made. I find where people make a mistake is not sitting down with self and those past decisions to again, decide on how to proceed if something similar arises. I often use dating as most people tend to be concerned about who they will end up with in life. In dating, the past seems to hold dominion, and most are completely fine with that. Hell, I was completely fine with that, feeling I knew a person based on their proximity to the other idiot that felt the same. The problem is I didn’t give them a chance to do what I love to do…rise to the occasion.
I have a checkered past of being selfish and selfless (yes being selfless can be a bad thing sometimes), of being on drugs, of being very frisky, and of being angry. If anyone knew of me then, they might not be able to trust who I am now, but I am not my past and neither are you. I am my present that is made up of those past events but those events don’t control me any longer. I accept my past; it’s what I had to go through to be this version of myself; and when I come into contact with people from my past I feel wasn’t the best, I allow them to show me something different. I want people to rise to the occasion. I want people to grow just as I have so I can’t hold them hostage by their past.
The past is in the past. The future has not happened yet. All there is, is the present moment. No truer words have been spoken and so impactful to me then those. Those words gave me the strength to overcome and think critically about my actions. It also allowed me to forgive myself and others, losing about fifty pounds of past drama in the process.
You are not you past. Overcome and live.