Paulo Coelho once said, “Make peace with your past so it won’t destroy your present.” There are many things that most of us want to keep hidden from ourselves and the people around us, things that caused us so much pain and suffering.
- Why It Is Important To Have Peace With Your Past
Everyone has gone through the good times and the bad. And if we want to move forward, we must learn to let go of the past and accept who we are, rather than letting our past to determine our future, we should learn from our past and use the experience to make us stronger, wiser and more resilient in our lives.
The truth is that if we choose to do nothing, ignore our dark experiences, and if we don’t heal our wounds, our past will continue to haunt us and put a limit on our future. In order to move forward and to live a successful life, we must learn to take control of our past rather than letting our past to determine who we are.
Why It Is Important To Have Peace With Your Past
Do you usually feel as if everything bad that can happen will happen, and it happens to you? When you are late, you will jam in the traffic congestion. When you invest your hard earned money into the stock market, the company suddenly goes bust and you lost all your money. When you work hard, your bosses don’t see your value and others are the ones that get the promotion. Do you feel like your life is always going to be like this?
If this sounds familiar to you, you are probably still affected by your past events that make you feel helpless, inferior, scared, and frustrated. Guess what, you will continue to feel it this way until you do something to change the situation.
Self-sabotage is one of the most common side-effects that people will get if they did not heal their past and choose to go on. When an opportunity presents, people will consider from their past experience. If they did not have a good past experience, they will choose to abandon the opportunity. On the other hand, if they had a great experience, they will go ahead with the opportunity that appears.
Thus, you must learn how to make peace with your past if you want to live a successful and happy life. It is just like driving a car, if you want to go forward faster and farther, you must let go the handbrakes. Most people drive with their handbrakes on, where their pasts are dragging them and limiting them. You simply have to release the handbrakes to go smoother and faster.
Here are 10 suggestions how you can make peace with your past:
1. Forgive and Let Go
According to Wayne Dyer, the famous success coach, he said, “Forgiving others is essential for spiritual growth.” This is often easier said than done. Everyone knows that they cannot change the past and all they can do is to let go of the grudges, but most still cling to their past and fail to let go.
First, understand that you are not perfect. You have to forgive yourself first and then decide to forgive others. Whatever you have done, tell yourself that you made those decisions based on what you knew best at the moment. If you can have a glimpse into the future, you will surely make a different decision, but we simply do not have the power to predict the future. Thus, forgive yourself for all the wrongs you have done.
Next, forgive those who have hurt you in the past. This may be difficult to do because forgiveness will not come to you naturally. Science has proven that forgiving others, people who have wronged you, your partners, your teachers, your parents, your friends, etc, will make you healthier, less anxiety, lower your blood pressure, improve your immune system, and make you happier.
One very effective way to forgive those who have wronged you is to understand why they act the way they do. When you understand why people do what they do and you think from their perspective, you will feel better. Once you have forgiven yourself and others, let go of the experience.
2. Accept Who You Are Now
Sometimes, it is difficult to let go. And if you can’t let go, simply accept the fact of whom and where you are right now. Accepting who you are and letting go are two different things. When you let go, you decide to never dwell on it and you move forward. However, when you accept your past, you admit your mistakes and failures so that you can move forward.
Accepting who you are does not mean that you have given up. You may have been a victim in the past, but you are still here regardless of the challenges thrown at you. This will make you a survivor, you may not feel it, but you are stronger. When you deal with your past, you can choose to be proud because you survived, or you can choose to succumb to failure and never get ahead.
So do you want to see yourself as a helpless victim or as someone who is still standing, fighting, growing and journeying to make your life better? It is when you accept your past that you can grow and improve.
3. Look for the Good
Napoleon Hill, the author who wrote the groundbreaking book, “Think And Grow Rich” once said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
You simply have to look for the good in the bad. No matter how bad a situation, there will always be something good that you can learn and absorb. Every cloud has a silver lining.
When Lee Iacocca was fired from Ford many years ago, little did he know that he would be able to join Chrysler and became the CEO there. He then built Chrysler into a company that was able to compete head-to-head with Ford.
Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he started in 1985. For the next few months, he felt down, frustrated and cannot seem to get through that failure. And during the commencement speech at Stanford University, he said, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
Steve Jobs then went ahead to build Next computer and brought Pixar to its fame. He got back into Apple and revolutionized the entire technology industry through his amazing products. So look for the good in every bad.
4. Focus on the Future
Another great suggestion you can take to make peace with your past is to focus on the future. When you focus and think about the future that you want, it will make you feel excited, happy, and driven.
When it comes to dealing with your past, time can be your best friend. When you focus on the future, your past will seem like a distant memory. Let the time heal your wound. Time will make the memory fade and time will devour your pain in the past.
After all, your past will be history that you cannot change, what you can change is your future. Of course, you will have to work on the present to create the future that you desire. And if you spend too much time thinking about your past, you will never get ahead. Time waits for no one. Bruce Lee has a meaningful quote, “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”
Hence, work on your future. Focus on your dream life and move on. Choose to set new goals that will empower you and give you energy.
5. Beware of the Negativity
If you want to have a peaceful life, be aware and stay conscious with your thoughts. Notice how and when negative thoughts and feelings arise. Staying mindful and be conscious of each passing thought is an important key to managing your emotion.
Highly successful people never let their negative thoughts get to them. They will notice the negative thought and then choose to move on. On the contrary, most ordinary people choose to let their thoughts control them. When they are working on their goals, they allow their negative thoughts to overwhelm them. As a result, they procrastinate.
Just like driving at night, when the bright headlights from the opposite car driver are shining at you, you simply look away at a different focus point. You did not look straight into the headlights and make your eyes pain. So when a negative thought surfaces, deflect it and find another focus point. Think about your exciting future, find the good, and the negative thought will sink itself.
The more you learn to stay aware of your thoughts and learn to control them, the better you will be. This is exactly what highly successful people will do. They feel tired and wanted to procrastinate, but they choose to work on their goals anyway.
6. You Don’t Have to Understand Why
Sometimes, in order to make peace with your past, you do not have to understand why things happened that way. When you keep asking the “why” question, you will only submerge yourself deeper into negativity.
If you keep asking, “Why am I so bad luck”, “Why does this have to happen to me”, or “What have I done to deserve this”, your mind will then search for the relevant answer. Your answer will be, “I am bad luck because I’m stupid”, or “I am bad luck because I’m failure and nothing good will come to me”. This will only make the situation worse.
Therefore, stop asking why and you do not have to understand it at times. The Universe is in perfect order. Look at nature, the waves in the ocean, the wind, the weather, the rain, etc, everything is in perfect order and you just need to believe that things happen for a reason.
Seeking answer for everything will not make you feel better. When you are feeling down, your answers will only be a reflection of your own negative interpretation of the past. So stop wasting your time trying to understand things that will not give you any satisfactory result.
7. Things will Change
Change is inevitable. And you have to understand that whatever that has happened, will come to pass. Decades ago, the job as a typewriter was real, but today, the job no longer exists. Technology will change and so does the world.
If you failed in your business before, it does not mean that you will fail again in the future. Please understand that it will never rain forever. And the sunshine will always come after the rain, always. After the winter has gone, spring will follow and the flower will bloom once again. The same goes with your life and your past.
When you are feeling down and sad right now, the feeling will not stay for long. When you understand this principle, you will never feel bad with your past. Rather, you will feel confident and see the hope in what is possible.
8. Practice Deep Breathing and Meditation
The deep breathing method and meditation have been proven to be effective in reducing your stress and making you at peace. A turbulent mind filled with bad past experiences drains out the energy, makes you tired, exhausted and frustrated. We cannot directly force or demand the peace of mind into us, but we can prepare our minds to become still. Meditation and deep breathing prepare your mind to calm down easily.
Now, you don’t have to spend an hour in meditation if you do not want to. You can always start small with just 15 minutes a day. Try to make it a habit to meditate for 15 minutes in the morning after you wake up. You will see the difference after a couple of days.
As for deep breathing, you just need to remember the 4-7-8 method. This is where you breathe in the air for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds and then slowly release and breathe out for 8 seconds. Do this a couple of times during the day, you will calm your mind and be at peace because you slow down your breathing pattern.
Studies have shown that our physiology will affect our mood. Meaning to say, your motion will determine your emotion, and breathing is one of the most important aspects in determining your mood. Long and deep breathing detoxifies and releases toxins. It calms your mind and relieves your tension.
9. Build an Encouraging Environment
Many scientists have proved that our environment plays an important part in shaping our lives. When you mix with negative people, you will think and act negatively. When you mix with positive people who are encouraging, you will become one too. The best-selling author Brian Tracy once said, “You become who you think about most of the time.” And what you think about most of the time will be greatly affected by who you mix with.
So join only people who are positive and are willing to support you. Try to avoid mixing with people who are negative, always complain and play the blame game. Honestly, you will never get anything out from those negative conversations.
When you found that the people around you are negative, try to avoid them and find to join others who are more positive. When someone always tells you about their sad past stories, you know something is not right and you need to get away, immediately. If you continue to join the same negative people, your human instinct will kick in and you will want to join the conversation and talk about how bad your past will be too.
10. Count Your Blessings
Finally, count your blessings. Feeling grateful is a very powerful way to get rid of negativity and to make peace with your past. Always be glad for what you have managed to achieve up to this point. You may feel like you have not achieved much, but as a person who is reading this right now, you are trying to change your life and make it better. It is an accomplishment.
Furthermore, if you have read up to this point, it shows that you put in more effort than most people who will just read the headlines and skim through this article. So count your blessings and be grateful for everything that you have had to this day. After all, you are still alive and you can read this, it means that you are doing much better than most illiterate people in other parts of the world.
Practice gratitude by writing a list of things that you appreciate. When you are feeling grateful, you will appreciate the things that you have, your friends, your parents, your car, your house, your cat, etc, and you will feel peaceful.