Building a Better Life
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | January 2017
A Dark Past; A Bright Future
Wherever we are that is a given for that moment. We start from there and work forward.
The past is finished but not gone. The things that have occurred are cemented in time. We can assign new meaning to past events but cannot change them; sometimes revisiting the past is necessary. Revisiting the past may be a passage to reshaping the present; or a destructive distraction. Through a few magical tricks of the mind, we relive the pain, projecting it into the present, destroying current relationships by dwelling on the abusive past. We don’t choose this; it just happens.
Sometimes the learning system goes haywire, interjecting faulty responses that destroy rather heal. A better approach is needed. A compassionate journey into the painful past with the guidance of helpful insights can sooth pain and create understanding.
"Sometimes the learning system goes haywire, interjecting faulty responses that destroy rather heal."
Reminiscing on the impact of past choices drains attention that would be better directed towards the present. We suffer when we focus energy on countless could-have-beens, punishing ourselves for going right when we should have gone left; dirty thoughts wasting precious time. The road missed usually isn’t as rosy as we imagined it would have been. Such thoughts, while deliciously distracting, avoid the present where current decisions are made.
When a struggling marriage sparks thought of lost opportunity, “If only I married a different person,” we are escaping the current problem. Regretting a choice and replacing it with an unknown alternative allows for flexibility, where we artfully create a joyous ending; reality can’t compete. The work required for successful relationships is a chapter pleasantly skipped over in our imaginations.
The past does, however, contain wisdom. We learn associations between behaviors and consequences. We see patterns in interactions and reoccurring emotions. By recognizing a chain of events, we can halt and change directions before hitting the same dead end. We can intervene with a healthier response, avoiding reoccurring pitfalls. We gain wisdom to make more constructive decisions.
Hiding in the dark corners of the past, we discover wisdom. Wisdom missed; overlooked in the heat of the moment and the immaturity of our mind; but with growth, we can utilize visits into the past, relieving unneeded guilt, and moving through hateful condemnations. We don’t simply shrug our shoulders at past hurtful choices but courageously contemplate our roles, gain wisdom and act better in the present.
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