I had the most difficult time writing this post not because I don’t have much to forget. I do, In fact if I have to forget everything there is to forget, my mind would be like a memory chip right out of the factory – empty.
But my past was not all that bad to be completely forgotten. And so is yours. The past, yours and mine, always holds treasures worth keeping. It could be some happy moments to buoy us up when we are down, lessons learned that made us better, or circumstances and events that made us stronger.
The past is a homogenous mixture of events that shaped us and a benchmark for the future. It will always be a part of you; the substance of who you are and the prelude of what you are going to be. It is the shadow of your character, defining you as a person. In a sense, it is the diary of your life that you refer to every now and then to guide you where you intend to go.
It can also do us in, if we are so obsessed with it, especially the traumatic parts. It will hamper you from moving on and growing up. As Richard Paul Evans aptly said,
“I think the secret to a happy life is a selective memory. Remember what you are most grateful for and quickly forget what you’re not.”
A case in point is this.
The urn of my wife’s ashes sits on a divider in my home. My friends tell me to put it in a columbarium so my mind will find rest. “But my mind is at rest,” I tell them. I have long willed myself to forget the sad circumstance of her death, but kept her urn to remind me of the good times we had.
You may call it selective amnesia. It is a deliberate choice to forget some things in your past so that you can move on. These can be many and choosing which to “save” and which to hit the “delete” button on can be quite a challenge.
For starters, forget those that stop you from:
– Being happy:
While happiness is a major desire in life, a lot of people find it too elusive. Not that they won’t or can’t ever be happy. They can and they do. But theirs is so fleeting, shallow and temporary, it can be likened to a drop of water on a tongue parched dry after a 10-kilometer hike under the searing heat of the sun.
There is so much sadness in the world mainly because of unmet expectations and past traumatic experiences. You can learn to adjust your expectations or do better to meet each one perfectly. But you can cry your eyes dry and it won’t take away your trauma one bit. If you allow it to regularly pop up in your mind, it will eat you like an ulcer – slowly and surely until nothing much is left of you but a stressed out, depressed person, unable to find happiness wherever you go, whatever you do.
Learn to let go and forget. Life is too fleeting to be needlessly spent dwelling on unhappy things that happened way too long ago. Learn selective amnesia.
– Forgiving or apologizing: :
“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” – Bernard Meltzer.
Sincerely forgiving or apologizing is liberating. It frees you from feelings of anger or hatred for having been treated unfairly or feelings of guilt for having treated others unfairly.
It raises your stature as a person a little higher than if you are incapable of doing either or both. Forgiving requires self-confidence and strength and apologizing, humility – two very important character traits for success.
Because of pride, a lot of people go around with the yoke of anger or guilt over their shoulders. They bristle at the slightest provocation, or go on the defensive at the slightest sign of a confrontation.
People who cannot forgive others, cannot forgive themselves either and they live with bitterness that simmers inside, waiting to erupt like a volcano, without any notice.
Forget the past. Forgive those who have slighted you and apologize to those you have slighted, and move on.
More than two thousand years ago, a Man suffered in a manner you and I will never be subjected to, for something He did not commit. Yet, when He gave His last breath, he cried forgiveness to those who made Him suffer as much.
Certainly you can you can do no less.
– Moving on:
It is impossible for us not to experience failures, setbacks, disappointments, and the like, in life. They could be lost opportunities, investments gone bad, relationships and marriage battered against the rocks, children not doing as expected, failing health, losing one’s job and many other trials common to people.
And they can come, not as singular events, but torrents of “bad luck.” As the saying goes, “When it rains, it pours.”
Some of them can be so severe to break the backs of some people.
How you handle these things is a gage of your attitude in life, your character, and your tenacity.
Success is very seldom, if at all, a trouble-free journey. It is like a salmon swimming upstream to the river of its birth to spawn. Only very few make it. And they did it by constantly moving on despite the difficulties they meet along the way.
Being hung up in the past stops you from moving on. Cut it off, like a rotten flesh, start a new life and move on.
– From having peace of mind.
Peace of mind is defined as the absence of mental stress or anxiety.
Despite the relative ease at which we live our lives today, we are never free from things that can give us undue stress and anxiety, e.g., mounting bills, death of a loved one, divorce, drugs, crime, and, in some parts of the world, wars, lack of freedom, religious persecution, natural and man-made calamities, and thousands of other causes that can stress us to the point of exhaustion, or despair.
While some people become good at bending and swaying to the storms of life, others are not as fortunate or adaptable. They become marked for life, becoming victims rather than victors.
Peace of mind is knowing and accepting the circumstances you are in and building your life around it. It is kind of blending in and making the most of it. It is knowing that life will not always be to our liking, yet living peacefully with its imperfections.
Several months after my wife died, I had to battle depression. I consulted a physician and took anti-depressant pills. I had to check myself into the ER of nearby hospitals twice. I kept within easy reach anti-anxiety pills. My children kept me in close surveillance.
Ultimately I realized that I had to do something to stop my downward tailspin. Fortunately I fully realized that my problems were caused by my mind, thus my mind I healed. I forced out the memories that caused them all. That was more than six years ago.
I am sure you also have your healing to do. You can start right now by forgetting the ugly parts of your past and replacing them with the good ones, which you certainly have in abundance.