Saturday, November 15, 2014

Leaving the Past Behind

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you or makes you happy.” - Robert Tew

             To reference one of my favorite movies (The Lion King), Pumbaa tells a young Simba, “It's times like this my buddy Timon here says: you got to put your behind in your past.” To which Timon responds, “No, no, no. Amateur. Lie down before you hurt yourself. It's ‘You got to put your past behind you.’” This hilarious advice was meant for Simba who was trying to run away from his past. He didn’t want to look back, and he didn’t necessarily want to look forward – he wanted to escape.

            In life, I’ve always been taught that running away from your problems will never solve anything. You need to confront whatever it is you’re scared of or trying to escape from. But as the cliché goes, “Easier said than done,” right?

            Do you ever find it funny that in movies, psychologists are always asking people about their childhood? That used to baffle me a little. How can a forty-something year old still be affected by what happened when he was eight? Time is supposed to heal those things, isn’t it? The years are supposed to wash away the pain and bring healing, or at least some kind of closure. Then I look at many of the older people in my life (thirty and forty-somethings) and I see that they are completely who they are because of what happened when they were five, eleven, twenty-five, etc. Because out of all the things we can get rid of in our life, the past will never be one of them.

            The past is a mastermind, who creeps in and out of your life without you ever knowing how it came back. But, like everything, there are things out of your control and things within it. You can’t control who reenters your life, or who leaves it again. You can’t suppress those memories of something painful. But you can choose what you’ll do next, how you’ll handle it.

            There is one very important rule I’ve learned to follow whenever it comes to confrontation: choose your battles. Know when to confront something or someone, and when to walk away. This rule can be applied to dealing with past issues, traumatic experiences, and people you’ve tried to forget.



When to confront it:

            The truth is, your past will never go away. No matter how much you run, hide, or try to forget. If you don’t deal with your problems, they will affect your life in ways you may not see for a long time. If fear is the only reason keeping you from facing something, then that’s not a good enough reason. When something affects your life negatively, you need to acknowledge it, and then take steps to deal with it. It may never be fully dealt with, but at least you have the power to not let it take over your life.


 When to walk away:

            On the other hand, sometimes there are things you need to stop running from, and just walk away from. What’s the difference? The fear that keeps you on the run versus the respect you have for yourself. There are things or people from your past that are unhealthy for you now, whether you want to admit it or not. Maybe it’s some kind of an addiction, maybe it’s an old relationship. You’ve come a long way, so don’t let yourself stumble now. Or maybe there are things you just can't let go of, perhaps out of the fear of losing something or someone. Again, fear should never be a factor in your decision to move on. Respect yourself enough to keep moving forward, not to escape, but to walk to something that’s better for your life.

            Whether you choose to confront it, or walk away from it, don’t ever forget it. Mixed in with that pain, trauma, and many unpleasant memories, there’s beauty, love, and happiness that should always be remembered. But you need to remember both, so that you know who you were then and who you are now; so you know what you’ve overcome, what you can handle, and what you’re capable of. Keep moving forward, but know that the past, good and bad parts, will always be moving along with you.


  1. I really enjoyed this post, although I have but a few concerns and a question: this topic is not uncommon and I agreed with a lot with what you said, especially when you said that it's about how you'll choose to handle it or what you'll choose to do next is what ultimately matters. But I'm not sure if I agree with your conclusion. Even if we decide either to walk away from it or confront it, the idea of our pasts hindering us from "living a life today" implies that there is a life to be had. Can we even begin to define such a life outside the bondages of our past, let alone have it be real? And if we ever do get there, where ever "there" is, who's to say we will like it? (You mention it as "walk[ing] to something that's better for your life".)

    I guess my point is this, the fact that we have pasts that become problems for us presently should be good enough reason to believe that there is a future life to be had where the past is no longer the past so as to be non-existent to us. In other words, we become free. The only question left then, would be this: once we're free, where (or even what) will be free to next?

    ok, I apologize if this sounds like nonsense (which it probably is), but you said to tell you what I REALLY think, so that's what I tried doing.

    OR I could've just been a casual passer-by and said, "ahh this is a good post, very thought provoking, thank you". Nothing would be that much different. (;

    Thank you,
    Brandon (that guy who works at Hideout)

    1. I really appreciate you reading this, and I'm especially thankful for your very confusing ponderings. I had to read it several times, so I'm just going to address one issue at a time from what I understood.
      First off, are you sure you didn't get a degree in philosophy? Because you sound very philosophical.
      Second, can we define a life outside of our past? Well, for a very basic answer, I think yes. If you woke up with complete amnesia, you would still be living your life. I'm not really sure how life wouldn't be real, unless we start talking about a different topic entirely. But, we can discuss that more in depth if you like.
      I guess "there" isn't really a destination. As long as we keep living, we'll never reach the end, just passing points that mark our life. And maybe you won't like it, but if you don't, then you get to keep moving onto something else until you find some form of happiness.
      As for being free, I'm not sure the past is something we can ever be truly free from. Just my opinion, but my point was that it's something we can always look back to, something that can haunt us, make us feel guilty or sad or happy. How can you ever be free from that? Especially if the past is a continual thing.

      No need to apologize. I write to get people to think, which is exactly what you did, even though it confused me a lot. So, thank you for telling me what you really think (or at least trying to, lol). :)

      p.s. I look forward to discussing this (or other topics) with you further :)