It doesn’t matter, it’s in the past

Bonus points for anyone who recognises the movie reference in the title (and double bonus points if you know where the photo was taken).

This week I was talking to my coach about something and was reminded how important it is to move on from things that have happened in the past. I’ve got a couple of examples to share about this, and a couple of questions to help you when you’re holding onto something from the past. 

The first example is a personal example. Honesty is incredibly important to me; it’s one of my most important values (for those who know me I’m sure this will come as no surprise). I much prefer knowing the truth from others, so when people have lied to me in the past I have sometimes struggled to let it go. 

One time someone very important to me told me a lie. It was only a small lie, specific to a situation, and was told to avoid me stressing. They had nothing but positive intent when they told me. But it was, nevertheless, a lie. 

Once they realised what they had done, and how catastrophic this could be for me, they panicked. I knew they’d lied, they knew they had, and we had a challenging conversation. I’d always said I couldn’t cope with having people in my life who had lied to me. 

However, I realised it hadn’t been done with any negative intent and it would punish both myself and the other person if I enforced rules that meant we weren’t part of each other’s lives anymore purely because of one minor incident that had good intent (even though I didn’t initially see it that way). 

We learnt a lot about each other and our relationship that day! It took a few days to overcome the incident but once we had it strengthened our connection and we’ve had many more fun, honest experiences since then. Neither of us can change what had happened, but we can control our reaction to it and our future behaviour.

The other example is a more current one. I’ve been watching some of the daily briefings from the government. Initially I was watching the full briefing including the Q&A section. 

I soon noticed the journalists questions often seem to focus on what’s already happened. They ask for government to apologise or ask if something should have been done differently. 

I can’t understand the logic for giving so much time and energy to something that is in the past. It can’t change anything about what has happened.

I’d much rather us all focus primarily on the present, and the future where our current behaviour might impact our future. Yes, we learn from the past, but we can’t change it, we can only change our reaction and how we think about it. We can change our current and future so that’s where I’m choosing to focus my energy ????

So my challenge to you is, when something happens that doesn’t make you feel good for whatever reason (it could be your own actions or actions of others):

Is it serving you to hold on to the negative emotion?

If not, could you choose to accept it’s happened and switch your focus to the present so you can enjoy that regardless of the past?