This question, which is a very good one, came about in discussion with a friend who was in the middle of reading my book. She asked “What is your suggestion for someone who is trying to live a happy life who can’t let go of the past?” This is a great question that may be holding a lot of us back. Let’s say you make a decision to start living a more positive, rewarding life from this day forward. You try everything you can get your hands on and make a great effort. Still you have issues from your past that are still bothering you. Well that would be like starting a boat, pushing the throttle all the way forward, but leaving the anchor down. You may go far, you may even break free of that anchor, but not without a good deal of damage. More than likely you will stay attached and start going in circles.
So the question remains. How do you resolve an issue from your past that keeps creeping up? I would have to say the first step is to identify the issue you have that is holding you back. Is it guilt over something you may have done? Is it regret over something you may have not done? Once you gain some clarity on what exactly is the past issue that is preventing you from enjoying your future is, the next step is to get leverage on yourself. What exactly does that mean? Well any issue involving change whether it be moving on from the past or overcoming a challenge we are dealing with in the present is to clearly define the pain we are gaining and the pleasure we are losing by not changing. Sticking with the issue of overcoming the past you must look at what things you may have lost in your present and more importantly may lose in the future by not resolving this issue. Ideally you should write them down so they are staring at you in black and white. On another page or in another column you should also write the pleasure this issue has caused you to sacrifice and what pleasures you will have to give up by continuing to drag this anchor around. After composing these two lists is should become abundantly clear that your past is controlling your life and not you. Is this what you are going to continue to allow? No! You do not necessarily have to go back to the actual people involved. In many cases this is not even possible as they may have moved away or even passed on. What you must do is deal with the issue in your head. Perhaps writing an entry in your journal asking forgiveness or giving forgiveness to someone else or even yourself. Perhaps have an imaginary conversation with that individual. The important part is to change what your past means to you. Change whatever is holding you back into something that empowers you. Find the good, find the lesson, find whatever you need to cut the rope on that anchor and sail the seas of your future!