Why Examining Your Past and Accepting Pain are the Best Things You Can Do For Yourself in 2021

I am in full acceptance of this moment, right here, right now. The past is the past. Be here now. Be present. That’s the goal, right? Be present and don’t worry about what’s in the past because it’s over? But isn’t is also important to examine the past, in an effort to understand who we are today and how we got to this (oh-so-important) moment. Don’t you wonder about what your parents were like when they were your age? Or what it was like around your house when you were a baby? 

In a similar way that who our parents and siblings are as people has an effect on who we are today, so do all of the people who you’ve spent significant time around over the years. All of your experiences have shaped you, whether you want to think about it or not. When you delve in and dissect certain situations and relationships from your past, it can give you insight into who you are as a person and what led you to this moment. 

I’ve found myself reflecting a lot lately. I’ve been feeling some guilt over it. Like, “stop worrying about what’s happened, you’re missing this moment.” To a certain extent, my inner voice isn’t wrong, being here in this moment is incredibly important, but my past matters too.

So yes, it is important to be present, but where do we draw the line? When does it become important to understand our past? When do we leave the past in the past? 

Why you shouldn’t burn bridges

Are your past mistakes, relationships, and friendships just things you’re glad to forget about? Or are there people you don’t speak to anymore that had an incredible impact on your current situation? Catching up with those people can sometimes be beneficial.

I know I have a lot of friends and acquaintances whom I don’t speak to at all anymore. Occasionally I think of one of these people and reach out. It can be really nice to catch up with old friends because for me, it gives me a window into the person I used to be and can help bring back old memories.

I recently caught up with an old friend. We hadn’t spoken in close to 10 years and it was.. really interesting to say the least. It brought back memories that I had previously lost, some of which are very cringe, others that weren’t. The whole experience was a little weird. I had anticipated it with nervousness for sure. What if we ran out of things to talk about? What if it’s extremely awkward?

It definitely wasn’t extremely awkward. So it was good but again, really strange. I’m so glad it happened but I could have easily walked away saying, “thanks for meeting me, I hope I never see you again.” Just that one encounter was enough to give me the closure I needed.

Sometimes it is required to remind yourself that you’re exactly where you need to be. Facing your past can be that reminder. I’ve been tempted to burn bridges in the past. I’ve gotten bitter about old friends whom I hadn’t spoken to in years and acted like I wanted to have some type of upper hand by refusing to speak with them again. That’s pretty dumb of me honestly. Unless a person has actually screwed you over in some way, why write them off entirely? Sure, maybe they hardly ever reach out but if they did one day, would you be willing to catch back up?

If your answer is no, just think about it like this. You’re choosing to live life feeling animosity that is mostly constructed from assumption. You assume that since you haven’t seen a person in a while they don’t care about you or don’t want to make you a priority. You honestly just never really know what a person thinks, until you ask them. They might have assumptions about you too.

You’ll never get any answers to your questions if you refuse to ever speak to the person again. So burning bridges doesn’t help anyone. Forgiveness is always a good answer. 

Its like facing a fear

Facing your past can be like facing a fear, and we all know that facing fears is good for us. Seriously, have you ever been afraid of something, and then taken that leap of faith and faced it, and then had regrets after? I know I haven’t. I know that every time I have faced fears in my life, I have not only grown but I learned that the fear itself wasn’t nearly as bad as what I had anticipated. When you’re looking your fear in the face its not at all what you had imagined it would be. In hindsight you’re like, “what was I even worried about?”

I think it can be easy to block out your past because you’re afraid. I know I’ve done it. Some memories you’ll never get back, and that can be a tough pill to swallow at times. Memories are really strange though. You can completely forget that something ever happened, then one small reminder from a person who was also there (a photo, a story) and it comes back. Or you could have what you think is a good idea of what your relationship or friendship was centered around (we just hooked up, all we did was get drunk together) and then you see or talk to that person again and you just think, “wait, we have similarities, I can see why we were friends.” 

So if you never face relationships, stories, trauma, pain that you still think about, you might just worry about it forever. I guess it’s always possible to just forget about something or block it out, but are the unresolved aspects enough to cause subconscious damage that you’re not even entirely aware of?

The reality is, if a person or memory is continuously popping into your head, there is some reason for it and it might not be a bad idea to reach out to that person, or reflect on the memory and dissect it a little more. It might help you uncover insight into who you are as a person and help you live a better life. 

Accepting Pain

So maybe I’m sounding pretty contradictory but I stand by my point (also, I’m a gemini if you didn’t know). Although being present is important, I have no problem with examining the past and if a memory from the past is continuously popping into my head, I’m going to address it. 

I accept this moment right now — imperfect yet perfect. Sometimes we try to make our lives look and feel perfect, covering up the blemishes, pain, bumps and bruises that make us human. We try to deny these things (kind of like having a dark past and running from it). But facing your past isn’t the only way that staring at something ugly in the face can make you a better person. Understanding that pain is a part of life is another great way to grow and practice gratitude and acceptance. Here’s why. 

You Can’t Have Pleasure Without Pain

We recently got our first jogging stroller. I had the pleasure of taking it onto the beach the day we got it. This was a big upgrade from our small-wheeled, travel system stroller we’d used for the last 15 months. Although our old stroller hadn’t been meant to be pushed through sand, we took it on the beach anyways.

So, when I arrived to the beach access that day with the new stroller, I really hadn’t realized just how satisfying it would be, to push those big tires with ease through the soft sand. I have literally not been that stoked in a really long time. It was SO satisfying. You know what it made me realize? Had I not experienced the difficulty of pulling the old stroller through the soft sand, as the wheels refused to turn because they were completely overcome by powdery sand, had I not experienced getting stuck in that powdery sand with my 3 month old daughter in the stroller and having to accept help from a random stranger who helped me lift the stroller and carry it across — I might not appreciate this new stroller just as much.

It had me thinking about something a friend said to me recently. It was something along the lines of how sometimes we strive to live in complete comfort. We do everything we can to avoid challenge, pain, discomfort, but is that the way life was meant to be lived? Without the pain, where and how do we find the satisfaction? Without a screaming baby, we don’t appreciate peace and quiet the same way. Without a lack of sleep, we don’t appreciate those restful moments nearly as much. 

If you just always feel good all the time, do you keep feeling good? Or do you reach a point where you’re nearly numb to feeling good, since it’s just how you’ve felt everyday? It is important to feel uncomfortable in life. Without discomfort, we cannot grow.

How are you facing discomfort this year? Do you feel like you’ve come to terms with your past, or are there aspects that need to be addressed? What would it take for you to burn a bridge? 

Let me know in the comments! 

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One thought on “Why Examining Your Past and Accepting Pain are the Best Things You Can Do For Yourself in 2021

  1. I absolutely love this post! It seemed to me extremely spiritual how it was written. Life is a long journey and people come and go and to be able to reach out to others from the past without judgement and open minds can be extremely beneficial along the journey! For not only our own but also for their journey! Everyone and everything is SO connected and keeping those connections going no matter how brief along the journey is really cool!
    I appreciated the contrast between comfort and discomfort and how the adversity helps us grow! That’s important to remind ourselves while we are in the moment! I know this year is going to be extremely challenging for me because I have a lot of changes coming up so I’m grateful for this reminder!

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