"Nothing can ever happen in the past.
It can only happen now."
-- Eckhart Tolle
"The time has come to let it go."
-- Alan Cohen
We all are an accumulation of everything we have experienced, and so our past experiences will always be with us in that accumulation. The vast majority of those past experiences are benign; that is, they have largely or perhaps even completely been forgotten consciously, while they are indelibly part of what we are and are there though we may be unaware.
Then, there are some experiences which had a particular impact on us because they were surrounded by good feeling or bad feeling emotion. Either one makes its impact, yet often it is the memories of the past that are surrounded by bad feeling emotion that seem to crop up periodically and cause us pain and distress.
In these cases, we are not reliving the past for the past is gone. What we are doing is reliving those moments, incidents, conversations, actions, right now in the only place we live and the only place we have any power at all: the present moment.
Forgiving ourselves doesn't really do the job. Since we cannot change the past, for it is what it was, if we want to feel good now, we need to just let go of it. It sounds too easy, and it is. Just let go.
I've shared this visual here a few times because it is so appropriate: when we are reliving a past experience attached to bad feeling emotion (I did something wrong, they wronged me, if I knew then what I know now, I. . ., etc.), it is exactly like a tug o' war event pulling with all your might to win the battle against the other team. But, in this case, the other team is yourself, so you're perfectly matched and the only way to win that game is to let go of the rope. Game over.
It helps a lot to remember that all of this is simply (and quite effectively) your thinking about an experience. It is an interpretation. We can change how we interpret it.
Years ago I went to a weekend seminar by Anthony Robbins where I walked on hot coals and learned so much in such a brief time. One way he said to change how you interpret a bad feeling past event is to bring it up in your mind, then play with it by turning it into a cartoon, running it backward like running a movie backwards, morph it into something else and more. The idea is to change how we interpret that event.
What I have found works best, although I love Mr. Robbins idea, is to change the memory by changing how I feel about it. The best way to do this for me is to understand that I did what I did, or said what I said, and it was perfect for the time and place. That time and place no longer exists. I realize that my life is working out perfectly and that contrast is and will always be in my life, and that contrast is what helps me to decide what I want and I always want something better--something better for myself in knowing how to better handle myself and understand my thinking.
I now understand how my Emotional Guidance System works and that bad feeling emotion is not bad unless I choose to stay there. The value of the emotion is to guide me toward what I want and I want not that now. Now is now and then was then and I am more now and I want more now and I want different things now and I have made the best decision I've ever made in realizing that I want to feel good and that I have the power to choose that in every single second of every single day, and as I choose that, what was has no more effect on me. I am free. I have released myself from the past by focusing on the adventure that I am now living, and it is perfect--contrast and all.
"What A Liberation To Realize That The "Voice In My Head" Is Not Who I Am. Who Am I Then?
The One Who Sees That." -- Eckhart Tolle
Spread Some Joy Today--from the only place joy exists. Right now.