Mental/emotional baggage (clutter for the mind) comes in many forms. One giant piece of mental clutter many of us hold on to, is our past. So many of us have people or events in our past that had such a profound effect on us, that we can’t let them go. We can’t move past them. We continue with our lives unable to grow fully mentally because we are tethered to people and moments that hold us back. But what is it that keeps us so tethered to these moments?
We are holding on to moments when we wish we had made a different decision. While it is perfectly healthy to hold on to a little bit of regret, as it a valuable tool to learn from, dwelling on these moments disables us from using the lesson learned in our future decisions. Don’t use regret as a means to punish ourselves, but instead as a lesson for moving on and making better decisions in the future.
We wronged someone. Aside from being a motivation for making amends, this is also useless. Much like regret, it’s only worth having guilt in small doses as it serves to shape our character. Unlike regret however, guilt doesn’t function as tool for future decisions.
For both guilt and regret I say this:
The past is the past, and we can’t change it. Punishing ourselves doesn’t help anyone. Feeling bad about the things we did so far back in our history is pointless, as we aren’t even the same people anymore.
I believe that many of us feel as if we owe a big debt to our history, and we can’t shed enough tears or feel enough pain to pay it. That we need to honor the past by continuing to live in it. Unfortunately this is useless, unproductive.
I prefer to look at it this way:
There is no debt. And if there IS a debt, the changes to our character (growth) that have resulted from these people and experiences in our past is payment enough. We are not honoring our past by living in it. We are in fact, dis-honoring our past by not moving on from it. We, in essence, do our history a greater service by letting go of it and embracing our future with what we have learned so far.