We know the past is gone and there isn’t much we can do about it, yet we spend considerable amount of time thinking of the past, and often wish things could have been different and better. Everyone does it not without their own good reasons. To some, recalling a past event still causes them emotional or mental suffering or distress. For others, it’s a feeling of pleasure or deep affection for a period in the past.
Most often we feel a lot of anger towards someone for something they did to us or for their failure to do something for us. It could have made an enormous difference to our life if they had not done or had done that something for us. Or one of or both our parents treated us very badly as a child. Whatever the reason, we are unforgiving and that precisely is the reason that a past event can engross our mind to the exclusion of other thoughts. That is unhealthy mentally unless we learn to forgive and free ourselves.
There are times we harbour a feeling of sadness and guilt about something we did or something we didn’t do. We disclosed to a friend some highly personal information which we later regretted telling. Or we delayed our last monthly visit to our mother and she passed away before we could visit her. Since then, we have been feeling the sharp pang of regret for delaying the visit as if we knew beforehand of her impending demise. Such feelings of guilt and sorrow can only continue to haunt us for as long as we remember or think of it.
What is done cannot be undone. What is done happened in the past and the past cannot be undone. By looking to the past, we are perpetuating our mental pain. It’s perfectly all right to learn from the past but it is certainly not so to be obsessed by events in the past. We continue to be a helpless victim if we allow something that took place in the past to be the main thought in our mind, causing other things to be forgotten. If you believe in living your life to the full, it is the now that is important; the past doesn’t matter any more.
It is acceptable to go back to the past and enjoy those happy moments. Some tunes make you remember past events. They really bring back vivid memories of, say, an evening you spent strolling along a beach with a friend who was very dear to you. Having a feeling of pleasure however should not at the same time be to the extent of causing you to feel a slight sadness or arousing your feelings in an exaggerated way about things that happened in the past.
In order not to let the past be a source of pain to you, you need to forgive others and yourself. You vow to avoid repeating your past mistakes. At the same time, you forget all the old grudges and never again to harbour a grudge against anyone. Forgiveness frees you from needless suffering caused by mental and emotional pain. Stop yourself from living in the past and concentrate on the present moment which is all you have now to lead a happy and healthy life.