Masterful Mindsets ~ No Hope for the Past
“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different, it’s accepting the past for what it was, and using this moment and this time to help yourself move forward.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
Are there parts of your past that you find yourself wishing and hoping would have been different? What past pain are you still holding on to? Are you ready to accept the past for what it was? Are you ready to forgive your past so that you can show up fully in the present and create your desired future?
I am extremely blessed to be the mother of two amazing girls, and yesterday I enjoyed celebrating Mother’s Day with them. However, it hasn’t always been a pleasant holiday for me. As a child growing up, Mother’s Day was just a reminder of what I did not have. My mother died when I was 7 years old. So I loathed the holiday and all that it stood for. Then many years later, as I grew up and got married, I found myself despising the holiday for another reason. In addition to being “motherless” I was also facing being “childless”.
Despite our efforts, it was over 8 years before we finally had our first child. And although I can easily look back at how much pain and sadness I felt, there is nothing I can do to change the past. I had resentment towards others who had what I didn’t have and I felt anger towards God for allowing me to suffer, not only by growing up motherless, but then through being childless for so many years. My pain and my discontent were suffocating. Even now, as I still work with many women who deal with infertility, I feel their pain through my past. And of course, I’d like to think that I am over the loss of my mother, but my wounded inner child still cries out at times, feeling abandoned and alone. But when I heard this week’s quote, it had such a powerful impact on me, that it literally transformed me in an instant. And in turn, it deeply altered how I showed up on Mother’s Day with my family.
See even in the years since I had my children, I still felt a looming sadness because I mourned the loss of my mom. I guess when you feel something for so long and it is such a part of who you are, it’s hard to let go of it. So almost every year, I still find myself melancholy on Mother’s Day as I think about my mom and once again, grieve her loss. But this year was different, all because of the impact this quote had on me.
I recently heard the quote while doing a meditation on hope and it shook me to the core. It brought back all the pain I’ve always felt. My chest was so heavy, it felt that I was being crushed. I couldn’t breath and then, in a flash, it reminded me that I could spend all my time and energy in the sadness of the past, a past that I can’t change, or I could focus on what I do have. The here and now. The present moment and the love of my children. When I started thinking about that and how I had been carrying around this false hope, wishing and wasting energy on the thoughts of how the past could have or should have been different, I realize that it was a lot of wasted emotion. A lot of lost peace and love for something that would never be. At that point, the weight lifted. I released all the heaviness, the pain, the disappointment, the grief, the hurt, the sadness and the anger. I realized that I had indeed been carrying around this misguided hope for my past. But the past is what it is and that will certainly never change, no matter how much I might want it to.
I had a coach tell me once that when I am able to love what has happened to me then I will truly be over it. I’m still not there yet. And I am not sure I will ever completely “love” what has happened to me but the positive side of it is that it has made me the person I am today and I do know I love who I have become. And I know that it is my life experiences that have molded me into the person I am today. So with that, I am able to find a space to love and forgive what has happened to me in my life.
When I had this awareness, and I felt the huge weight lift off of me, it was like a new beginning. And it is my hope for you that you can experience the same relief and renewed hope in your future. No matter what has happened to you in the past. Whether it was abuse, neglect, abandonment, infidelity, death, an act of hateful racism or maybe it was just a few bad decisions… please know that although it cannot be changed, it can be forgiven. And it is in forgiving that it loses its power over you. Only you can control whether it still has a hold on you. And when you stop dragging it along in the hopes that it will change, you finally stop allowing it to control your life.
My challenge to you is to find forgiveness for any past hurts that you are still holding on to. A great exercise for this is to write a letter of forgiveness to the person or even perhaps the situation that you feel the most pain over. (Note: It might even be a higher power or you yourself that you need to write to.) Then release the letter by burning it or tearing it up. Accept the past for what it was. Let go of the hope that it could have been any different. All the hope in the world will not change the past. But know that in letting go of that old hope, you are able to look forward with new hope for your future and that is truly where hope belongs – in today, tomorrow and beyond.
***I want to hear from you… Share your thoughts about this week’s topic below!