Recently whilst reading one of my favorite books I came across a passage that said “Let go of your past. Stop clinging to it. You are not going to drown without it. You are drowning because of it.” This is something that most people are caught up in, living in the past. But why is it so important to let go of it?
It’s important because people tend to identify themselves with their past and what they have experienced or achieved. But you are not your past. You are so much more than that. And identifying yourself with your past is preventing you from seeing yourself as you truly are.
It’s rare for us to look back at our past and not judge ourselves for what we created, assuming of course that you realize you created it. We are not victims here. There are no victims in any circumstance, lest you choose to be one. Yet most of us consider ourselves to be victims if we’ve experienced something unpleasant or really terrible. I am going to take an example of someone I know that was sexually abused by her father for most of her childhood. Today as a grown woman, married with two adolescent children, she is still suffering from this abuse and so too is her family. She cannot accept what happened to her, and so she cannot forgive her father, neither can she forgive herself.
Some of you might consider my example as extreme, but know that sexual abuse such as this is not a rare occurrence. And there are many women as well as men, who remain in victim mode throughout their lives because of it. Yet I have said, there are no victims here in our experience as humans, not in any circumstance. How can this be?
It’s all a matter of perception. How we perceive something, determines how we feel about it. It gives it meaning. In other words nothing has meaning until we give it meaning, and we can decide what meaning to give it. I know of another woman who was in the same situation, but she is today a balanced and happily married woman. Why? Because she decided not to let that experience affect who she is. She forgave herself and her father and decided to put the experience behind her and move forward with her life.
Letting go of your past does not mean forgetting about it and pretending it did not happen. It did, and nothing can change that. But it does mean that we can choose to give it different meaning. We can choose to see it as a gift and move on. But how can we do that? How can such a terrible thing be a gift? What if you chose to see the gift as forgiveness? You could experience this liberating thing called forgiveness through what happened to you. This is how you alter your perception of something. You choose to give something terrible a different meaning, a positive meaning, one that helps you move forward with your life. Only then can you be free.
By holding on you are preventing yourself seeing the experience as a gift. And so you stay clinging to it, not knowing what to do with the experience and why it happened in the first place. I tell you there is always a gift, nothing happens by chance and nothing happens by accident. Only when you accept that, and choose to find the gift in the experience, can you be truly free.