The only way to avoid getting hurt by someone is to live in a cave or a coma.
Every person on the face of the earth has experienced mistreatment, injustice, unfairness, offense, exploitation, and abuse. Some much more than others but no one has a free pass. Many have said or done things they’ve lived to regret. We all have a past; we carry the residue of those experiences around with us like baggage. That baggage gets heavy and clumsy.
Let me set up this video below. Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s diminutive Belgian detective is on holiday in Egypt. There he encounters a young couple on their honeymoon. The problem is the husband had been engaged to another girl who secured him a job with a wealthy heiress friend who then “stole” the young man away from his betrothed and marries him herself. In this scene, there has been a blow-up in the dining room between the jilted girl and the newlyweds. After dinner, Poirot takes a stroll through the hotel’s gardens where he engages in conversation with a guest who has her own problems with her mother, Poirot then speaks with the young bride, followed by the jilted lover. There are so many lessons here pertinent to my topic in today’s post, please watch the video before proceeding. It is less than 3 1/2 minutes long.
7 things you need to know if you want to get past your past
- Realize that HISTORY IS NOT DESTINY. You cannot pick your family but you can limit the power they have over you, the heritage they delivered to you, and the perspective they opened up within you. You cannot pick your family, but you can pick your friends. Class limitations may have been part of European cultures but they are not part of American culture. Anyone can rise above their historic limitations. Larry Elder, conservative black talk show host in Los Angeles fielded a phone call from a black woman who claimed that the black community could be excused for their less-than-prudent behavior because of ill-treatment by whites. Elder responded that “Jews were practically annihilated during World War II, and have been continual targets throughout history. You don’t see them doing drive-by shootings and killing their own babies. Do you?” The past is nothing more than a launch pad for the future. Failure and error, injustice and abuse may have been yours in the past, but it does not have to be your destination…unless you let it be.
- THERE IS NO FUTURE IN THE PAST. A backwards focus will effectively blind you from seeing the future. In the words of Hercule Poirot, “Bury your dead!” It’s over, gone, passed, finished, done! Let it go! A backwards fixation is like trying to drive your car forward while gazing intently at the rear-view mirror. You will get nowhere but in the ditch. I am not suggesting you can just forget what might have happened to you. I am advocating that you let go those things, events, and decisions of yesterday, then resolve never to revisit them. Preoccupation with our own needs, our own history, our own situation and present position limits our outlook. He that is all wrapped up in himself makes for a very small package.
- WHEN WE’RE AFRAID WE’LL BE HURT AGAIN, WE TRY TO GET MORE FROM A RELATIONSHIP THAN WE GIVE. Dan is 33 and divorced. He’s been dating a widow, Noel, for 18 months. Noel has 2 children, both girls, ages 12 and 8. Dan says he loves Noel and likes the kids, but he’s afraid to get married. Why? He had an unfaithful wife, “So now I’m afraid of getting hurt again.” But, Dan is not too afraid to sleep with Noel. He’s not too afraid to spend time with the children and have them come to count on him. He’s not too afraid to ask her to date only him. He’s not been too afraid to enjoy her companionship and the feeling of family. The fear has been in giving, but not in taking! Yesterday’s baggage can readily become today’s furniture.
- YOU MAY HAVE BEEN A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCES AND EVENTS AT ONE TIME, DON’T BECOME A VOLUNTEER. At the very least, experience is a very effective teacher if you listen to what it says. I will be among the first to acknowledge that some people find great solace in being able to excuse present behavior and future failure by laying claim to an unfortunate history. Are you living in your perceived mistreatment? Is it ever near your lips and vocalized to any willing ear you can waylay? Has it become your claim to fame?
- YOU MUST BECOME MORE CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR FUTURE STATE THAN YOU ARE ABOUT YOUR PRESENT FEELINGS. You may feel guilty, depressed, or resentful but caving in to any of those will lead you only to more guilt, resentment, or depression. The feelings of persecution you now hold may be merely the consequences of decisions you have made and actions you have taken. Conversely, decisions and actions can lead you out of them.
- LIFE IS NOT FAIR so set your path away from the fantasy that someone will make it fair or somehow fairness will be dropped on you. It might, but don’t bank your life on it.
- NO ONE CAN MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR YOU, NOT EVEN GOD WITHOUT YOUR COOPERATION AND EFFORT. You have to do it yourself. Jesus tells the account of a man who was disabled from birth whose days were spent lying on a pallet waiting for a miraculous deliverance. Jesus asked him a remarkable question, “Do you want to be well?” If the man were to somehow become whole, it would mean the end of life as he had known it. Things would change for him. He would join life in the mainstream, no longer be the focus of pity and attention, required to fend for himself. Let’s make the application here. The future can be better for you if you want it to, but it will require change. You can no longer lay any blame on the past, excuse your state by a faulty history, or diffuse any expectations of responsibility by denying your role in changing the future. If you think God will somehow, someway send a miracle your way, break the links to your past, and open up a life of freedom and happiness, you will be disappointed.
I titled this article YOU can get past your past. I did not call it SOMEONE will get you past your past. If you do nothing, that is exactly what will happen – nothing. If you do something, something will happen. I have no idea what. But I can guarantee that the past is no place to live.
We are not to blame for the actions of others but we are culpable for our response, or lack thereof, to what they did. Perception, adaptation, and action are in our power now, today. Getting past your past demands personal responsibility for decisions today and actions tomorrow.
So, listen to yourself think and speak. Are you hearing too many references to the past and what it or someone did? Has you impediment become your badge? Be honest with yourself, is there just a twinge of resentment at others who have gotten on with their lives while you seem to be stuck? What baggage do you need to leave beside the road?