I tend to romanticize a lot. I romanticize through nostalgia and the very vortex of nostalgia is quite alluring. She pulls me into her gravity; the qualities of intuition, inspiration, imagination, and idealism all blended into an indulgent daydream of the past that feels all too familiar. As an empath, it is easy for me to see and feel the nostalgia and get stuck in the way things used to be. Perhaps this is why I, and others, get stuck in the past because of the way it feels. It is safe, comfortable and known, whether or not it’s necessarily happy, versus the future that is not set, known, or relatable.
When I think of my past, of trips I’ve taken, places I’ve been in physical form and even metaphorically in my spiritual readjustment and healing phases, I feel the reminder in my body. And if I’m honest with myself, it all feels like one bittersweet flatline. Lifeless reminders of what I used to be. A reminder versus the remainder…like the division of the self into various parts, the remaining pieces of me that remind me of who I used to be.
If you fall into the trap of wanting all parts of yourself, to the point that you keep hanging on to the past in order to keep them alive, remember this:
Some parts of us are born to die, and some parts die in order to be reborn. It is the ones that leave with a purpose that are truly meant to leave. Here are 3 ways to know you’re hanging on to the past; the ideas or things that truly want, and need, to leave:
SEE ALSO: Buddha’s 6 Rules Of Love
1) Feelings of nostalgia are stronger than feelings about the future.
Sometimes, I feel the glow, the nostalgia of “I wish things were different” feelings. Some might call it melancholy. It stops me hard in my tracks, breaking into missed emotions and hopes for something that isn’t, so of course, life can’t take me forward from that reality. In those moments, I am no longer on track moving ahead and my perfect possible future self gets derailed.
Nostalgia is the glue that binds, but to what it is binding you?
2) You live life from a “yes and no” mentality.
Having been so bruised by love, I often find myself using limited, defined constructs when it comes to my future. “I failed once at marriage, am I destined to be alone forever? Yes”. The pained part of me answers “yes” because it is all she knows, all she can see from her limited point of view of being stuck in the past.
‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are expressive affirmative and negative absolutes that do not express doubt or room for change, yet act as calls for your attention. Do you feel that you will never reach that level of happiness, status, satisfaction, or acceptance again? Where the attention resides is in the need for grayer. More love of fluidity and a chance to be evolutionary in your approach to life. A neutral tone from the black and white thinking of absolutes. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Neutrality sets us free. It helps us see something more like the truth of what’s happening, instead of experiencing circumstances in relation to expectations and desires. According to Zen Buddhist traditions. ”Truth has no this or that. The path has no ordinary or holy.”
3) Thinking about the past actually makes you sad.
As flesh beings and energetic beings, it is true when I say, what resonates in you, resides in you. Resonance=resident. The existence of resonance in your body is the ability to evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions. What makes you sad is the notion that you are clinging to a specific period from your past because you don’t feel there is anything in the present or future that could possibly be better.
The future is fraught with uncertainty. That will always be a truth. What we know from the past provides a foundation for the future, yet, there is a difference between thinking about the past and living in it. Dreams build, and they build on each other. It’s okay to remember those dreams of the past in order to create a better future…just don’t live there.
In the words of Taoist Master Chuang Tzu, a defining figure in Chinese Taoism,
“There are no fixed limits. Time does not stand still. Nothing endures. Nothing is final… He who is wise sees near and far.”
In the echo of his words remember:
- Be grateful for your past and for all it has provided.
- Acknowledge that there are some things in life that you just can’t control. As you learn to let go of those things and forgive yourself, you open the door to a new beginning. It is then, you will feel the weight of your past lift off your shoulders.
- With peace present in your heart, spend some time planning ahead. The future will seem a lot less scary when you have some kind of plan in place and a release from the past of what didn’t work. Because, at the end of the day, direction and goals move us towards a sense of purpose and direction in life.