“The Past is the Past” is both quite complex and simplistic. It is complex because most of us (perhaps all of us) have events in our history which we may question many times, and simplistic because it is a statement of simple fact.
A number of blogs I follow have recently posted thoughts about dealing with the past, and this can be very challenging depending on the individual and also (of course) on the specifics causing the unrest.
Past unpleasant (perhaps traumatic) experiences can generally be attributed to what somebody did to us, or what we did to somebody else. The following thoughts/comments are around the latter scenario because sometimes it seems easier to forgive somebody else for their mistakes, than it is to come to terms with our own.
Perhaps that decision we made a long time ago was, in hindsight, simply poor judgment? Perhaps we just listened to the wrong people when trying to decide how to address a particular situation? Perhaps we were given good advice but, even knowing that it made sense, chose to ignore it anyway?
“I’ll expect perfection from you as soon as I can set the example. You’re quite safe for the foreseeable future!” … has been my philosophy to staff, friends and family for many years now. However, while mistakes will always be made, I do have an expectation that lessons will be learned and, hopefully, the mistakes not repeated.
In the context of coming to terms with your own shortcomings in past situations, it is my belief that you have to accept two very basic truths:
None of us are perfect … and that includes you!
Every mistake we make produces an opportunity to learn from it.
Admitting to ones own flaws can be an issue, especially if there is an existing lack of self-esteem. However, there is a reality that everybody will/does make mistakes and, while that must include you and me, it is good to remember that it also includes those around us who may well act to convey quite the opposite impression.
We have probably all encountered individuals who project a sense of confidence about everything in general. It would seem that their life has been perfect. While a healthy ego is a positive asset, it must be balanced with a sense of reality, so while they may not acknowledge their inherent imperfections, it is up to us to recognize that they exist in everybody … in order to put ourselves at a healthy point of reference.
i.e. It is probably a good start in dealing with our own history if we simply acknowledge that, regardless of the images presented to us by various people, we are all imperfect. We can all make mistakes. In fact, just as in dealing with an addiction, the first step to healing is to acknowledge that you do have a problem. (You cannot fix a problem you don’t have … right!)
If you can do that, then you are already ahead of so many others. Well done!
So, if you accept that everybody makes mistakes (including you), and you accept that every mistake is an opportunity to learn so as to avoid a repeat performance, what is next?
Perhaps dwelling on your specific oversight would be a good starting place, and then asking yourself (with hindsight) … “What could I have done differently?” Depending on the issue, the answer could be quite simple, or it could involve more thought. An option may well have been to simply not said/done whatever it was in your past, but you may have had a goal in mind which dictated an action on your part. In this case, perhaps think about alternative ways you could have approached the issue.
If your action was done of out of ignorance of other factors, then you now know for the future. If it was done with no allowance for the potential sensitivity of the issue, then you know to be more sensitive next time. If it was done because you were acting only in your own interests, then you have learned to consider other perspectives next time. All of these examples result in a more educated you, and how can that be anything other than good!
The whole point of the above is not really to prepare for a repeat of those circumstances as that is unlikely to happen, but is intended to reinforce that while mistakes were made, there have been things learned as a result which we can hopefully apply to whatever lies ahead of us.
Remember – None of us are perfect, and we therefore all make mistakes.
Remember – Every mistake provides us with an opportunity to learn and grow.
Remember – The past is the past. It is history and cannot be changed. Tomorrow, however, is an opportunity to live our life using lessons learned from our past.
Just some thoughts.