Our past experiences play an important role in shaping the person we are today. We are conditioned by early childhood experiences with caregivers and relationships with family and friends. Some of these past experiences can feed the restless mind in making messaging that keeps us tied to the past, particularly bound to negative experiences and fixed resentments. Unresolved negative past experiences can certainly influence the way we feel, think, make decisions and act in the world today.
There are several things you can do to release yourself from the restless messages from negative past experiences. First, you can notice the messages as just that, messages. There is nothing that happened in the past that is still present, at least not in the same way. When we notice that the messages are unresolved feelings and thoughts about the past, then we can begin to address them and hopefully not repeat them. A second helpful way to make peace with a troubled past experience would be to find a safe, trusting relationship and share your experience. Many people benefit from a mental health professional therapist or counselor. These individuals can assist you in processing the experience without judgment, and offer more adaptive strategies going forward. Finally, the act of forgiveness can be a powerful means towards putting to rest a past negative experience, while freeing yourself and even experiencing inner peace about the experience.
This reminds me of the amends process in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, which offers the person in early recovery a means to acknowledge the past wrongs with others when they were drinking, and when they are ready, to make amends to them. The AA literature emphasizes the slow pace in which a person should proceed. It’s not about fixing, solving or making anybody feel better. It’s about the transformation of the alcoholic into a person who is spiritually fully alive!
Today, spend some time with yourself and identify a past negative experience that continues to influence your day-to-day functioning. Imagine ways you can begin to reduce its influence and let it go!