Healthy History

One must always maintain one’s connection to the past and yet ceaselessly pull away from it.” Gaston Bachelard

As humans, we are consistently conflicted between our need to honor the past and our inability to let go it. Our past can be important to us as a way of honoring who we are and where we come from. At its highest, a celebration of our past is a celebration of our heritage, family ties and beliefs. It can be a great source of self-confidence and pride when we carry forward the best parts of ourselves. The problem, though, is that there is a fine line between honoring our history and having it limit our future. When our past becomes our story – the reason for not achieving our dreams or reaching our full potential – it becomes a toxic pull rather than a resource. Many of us falsely believe that our failures and disappointments define who we are meant to be tomorrow. We hold on to our past as if it is THE truth, the only truth. And then like an anchor that can’t free itself from the sand, we’re weighed down – limited in what we can and can’t do today and in the future. Worse yet, any real and healthy connection we might have with the past gets muddied with our negative perception of ourselves. A better approach to viewing our past begins when we can separate out what we want to hold dear and what no longer serves us. Rather than holding on to our negative past, we can simply acknowledge the valuable lessons and use our past as information – something to look over for us to learn from. Indeed, when we see that our history contains gifts for our future, we can begin to see opportunity where we might have instead seen closed doors. Our past, then no longer can consume us. We can pull away from it in a healthy way and only choose the parts that support us in who we were meant to be – letting go of any conflict and freeing ourselves to have a fulfilling future.

Weekly Path to Peace: Maintain a healthy connection to your past.

  • Begin this week by looking at your past. What do you celebrate most about who you are, your heritage, culture or family? Write down all the ways your past supports you in being the best version of who you are today or in the future. Do you take pride in the strong line of women you come from? Perhaps your culture is a source of daily joy. Write out all the ways you wish to maintain a connection with your past in a positive way.
  • How does your past hold you back? Are there beliefs that you’ve adopted that aren’t your own? That may have been passed down through the generations, but is no longer of service to you in the present? Look at all the stories you tell yourself about how you can’t do something because of the way you were in the past. After identifying them, choose to release those beliefs ceremoniously – tear up the sheet, safely burn the paper or declare to yourself to have a healthier relationship with your past by not letting it hold you down today.

As you begin this week, rate your level of happiness, self-esteem and self-confidence on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not satisfied and 10 being very satisfied. Notice where you are Sunday evening after you do this week’s peace practice to see if there is a change.