“The past is a ghost, the future a dream, and all we ever have is now.”
I walked down the dim hallway, the stone walls lined with dimly lit torches. I reached out to either side of me with my arms, and touched barren walls lined with lichen moss. I sniffed the air, and smelled the musty scent of lingering mold. As the torches flickered in the dead air, shadows lined the walls; their faces, long and hideous, dark and menacing; their voices, clamoring for my attention as they whisper my name.
Faces I dimly recognized from the past, brought sharply to my mind long forgotten memories, and oftentimes, best forgotten memories. I shied away from a face here and a face there, the memory of the past brought sharply to my mind. I glanced around, and saw only one way out; forward.
I continued my walk down the Hall, and I saw a figure emerge from the end of the tunnel. Her face, hidden by the shadows of the Hall, radiated kindness, and I walked faster towards her. As I got closer, the voices in the Hall erupted, bringing sharply to my mind hateful memories of the past, memories long since forgotten, but never truly gone. I reached out my hand towards her…
And I woke up in my bed, drenched in sweat. I blinked rapidly, and glimpsed at the spectres of Fear, Self-Loathing, Uncertainty, and Angst as they slowly faded out of sight. As I blinked, I watched one of them make the sign of ‘Peace Out’ as he faded out of view.
“Well, at least my humor is still intact,” I mused to myself as I climbed out of bed and started my day anew.
As I chugged through the rest of my day, my mind kept playing back the dream that randomly just pops up now and then. Just like a prophecy, dreams can be interpreted differently by different people; prophecies are read differently by the person reading it, and the meaning of the prophecy can be different depending on the person’s life experiences and knowledge. Same with dreams, but in this case, a dream can be interpreted differently by the one who actually dreams it versus one who is going by their own past experiences.
In my case, I noted that this one particular dream rears its ugly head when certain things happen in my life.
I blame our friend, Anxiety.
As many of you may know, I have made quite a few changes in my life recently, all for the better. Writing a blog, and maybe even a book eventually; wearing hearing aids and learning to socialize with them; all these things and more as I work to improve myself, to better myself in the long run. Things that I have been wanting to do for a long time now. Positive things.
On a side note, I am bemused by the fact that as some people continue to read the continuing adventures of my ‘friends’ and I in this blog, I have come across the unspoken question of ‘Do you really listen and talk to the voices in your head?’
I’m sorry. As much as it may sound exciting if I did, the answer is : No. I do not. But do I live in my head? Yes, I do. Because I have gone through life for a long time without the use of aids, I have missed out on the sounds that surrounds all of us on a daily basis. Without that noise, the vacuum of near silence that surrounds me on a constant basis has not distracted me from being inside my own head. Just recently, as I have been wearing my hearing aids, I have noticed that the sounds around us serves as a handy distraction from the heavy thoughts in our minds. So think of my ‘friends’ as imaginary, a part of my subconscious. So no, unfortunately, I am not going crazy. Yet.
So back to the story at hand.
Life has a way of throwing curveballs at us. Sometimes we may feel like we took one step forward, only to take two steps back. I believe that is the key to human resilience, the ability to adapt to any situation. But that doesn’t come without a price. For every positive step I took, it brought hardship and roadblocks designed to make life harder and more difficult. My friend, Anxiety, rears it’s ugly head and reminds me of those roadblocks I’ve encountered, and tells me, no, no, no! You can’t do this! Change was always hard for me, and with my lack of hearing, it was even harder to make possible some changes. However, I persevered. With some modicum of difficulty. And a whole lotta angst. In the form of nightmares and dreams, our friends, Anxiety and Depression, never lets us forget those.
What’s the point to all this, you may ask?
Let go of the past, but keep the lessons it taught you.
There are so many self-help tips out there on how to let go of your past; it’s as simple as Googling it. Most of them are solid, and are well worth the read. One such read was found on Healthline.com, and was written by Sara Lindberg (and reviewed by Dillon Browne, Ph.D.).
Tips for Letting Go
- Create a positive mantra to counter the painful thoughts.
- When you find yourself thinking about painful thoughts from the past, create some kind of mantra. For example, instead of saying, “I can’t believe that happened to me!” try a positive mantra such as, “I am fortunate to be able to find a new path in life – one that is good for me.”
- Create physical distance.
- It’s not uncommon to create some distance between you and the person that has upset you. Remove yourself from the situation. Create some distance.
- Do your own work.
- Focusing on yourself is important. When you find yourself thinking about a situation or a person that caused you hurt, bring yourself back to the present. Then think about something you are grateful for.
- Practice Mindfulness.
- When we start practicing being in the present, the Right Here, Right Now, the less the past will come back to hurt us.
- Be gentle with yourself.
- Don’t criticize yourself. Mistakes happen. Without mistakes, we wouldn’t learn. We wouldn’t be able to grow from our mistakes. We wouldn’t learn from the mistakes to grow. So be kind to yourself. Forgive. Move on.
- Allow the negative emotions to flow.
- Having negative emotions about something is natural, even common. You may feel grief, fear, anger, disappointment, sadness. When you shut them out instead of letting yourself feel them, you risk bottling it up, which will come back to haunt you later. Let the emotion flow out, even if it might need mental health intervention. Fighting and shutting out your emotions will leave you feeling stuck.
- Accept that the other person may not apologize.
- Waiting for an apology from another person is not healthy when trying to let go of something that happened in the past. It’s important to take care of yourself, which means you must focus on yourself, and not waiting on a person who may never apologize.
- Engage in self-care.
- When we are hurting, we often do things that prolong the hurt. Do things that brings you joy and comfort rather than doing things that will bring more pain into your life.
- Surround yourself with people who fill you up.
- Surround yourself with people who accept who you are; who makes you smile and makes you happy. Don’t keep around a reminder of the situations and people who have hurt you.
- Give yourself permission to talk about it.
- Talk about it when you feel the need to talk about it. Write about it. Journal. Let yourself heal by talking about what happened. Sometimes people can’t let go because they feel like they can’t talk about it. Change that and just speak up.
- Give yourself permission to forgive.
- Forgive yourself, even if there’s nothing to forgive yourself for. Forgiving yourself will help promote self healing and lead to a better future. Forgive yourself for a mistake that may or may not have been yours to make, and then move on.
- Seek professional help.
- If you struggle from letting go of a painful experience, then you may benefit from seeking professional help.