An example might be a young man named George who lost his mother as a child. George certainly suffered a great deal of pain and loss at a young age, and that traumatic experience shaped who he became as a man. As he continues dwelling in the past, George devotes a part of every day to his deceased mother. He has built an elaborate shrine to her in his spare bedroom. George continues to set an empty place for his dead mother at the table at every meal. Furthermore, George makes it clear to everyone that the loss his mother at a young age was devastating and ruined his life. This is a situation where George is dwelling quite unhealthily in the past, letting the past control the present, and failing to move forward into a healthy life.
In contrast, a healthy adult named Susan lost her father as a child, but she has not forgotten her father by any means. Susan continues to cherish her father in her daily prayers and in her heart. She has hung a picture collage of him in her family room along with pictures of other family members. At her wedding, she offered a tribute to her father, wishing that he could have been with her on her wedding day walking her down the aisle. However, Susan also understands that her father is gone, and that she is still living. She has not stopped her life because her father is gone, and she does not let her father’s death hamper her personal growth. She understands that death is a part of life, and she has let go of the bitterness that she once felt towards whatever higher power took her father away from her at such a young age.
When Susan became seriously involved with her fiancé, she found herself unintentionally doing things that were sabotaging the relationship. She didn’t mean to cause the problems, but clearly something was askew. Thus, she met with a therapist who was able to help her determine what was happening. Susan had a deep-seated unconscious fear of her fiancé abandoning her just as her father had abandoned her (through death) when she was a child. In this case, it becomes very necessary for Susan to look back to the past to understand her present behavior and to correct it so that she can have the wonderful future with the man she loves. In this case, it’s not a matter of dwelling in the past but rather re-examining the past to bring about positive change.
For me, I have had to look back to issues across this life and into my past lives in order to bring about physical, emotional and spiritual healing. I don’t dwell in the past, but I do recognize that those events shaped who I am today. In studying and working with those past traumas, I have been able to release pain that was holding me back. Without that pain, I am able to live life more fully in the present and move forward into a future that amazes me. However, without looking back on those past events, none of it would be possible. It’s hard and often painful work, but the results are amazing.
© 2015 Green Heart Guidance