#115 – How Living in the Past Is Stopping Your Progress and Some Real Ways To Overcome

Ýlona María Rybka on Unsplash

The past is a story. It doesn’t exist anymore, yet the basis for a lot of mental issues is derived from stories of yesterday. We willingly and unconsciously conjure up these stories again and again.

Why do we do this?

Why do unfavorable circumstances hold so much precedence in our lives today?

In my personal experience, it has stemmed from childhood. I observed those close to me inflict venom on each other by using their past missteps against each other. It was as if they were spewing batons of mental weapons of mass destruction.

Petty arguments created avalanche-like mounds of force in the form of mental and physical abuse, with the aim of crushing one another. I was young, naive, and an observer when this battle of egos was taking place. However, I still had the capacity and know-how to understand that this wasn’t normal. How I was able to understand this as a child is beyond me because I was at an impressionable age as we all are when in our youth.

I could have easily fallen down the pit of addiction, victimization, and other mental health issues that plague more and more people today. However, immersing myself in philosophy, understanding human psychology, taking care of my body, being mindful of what I eat, and observing my mind have been impeccable tools for growth.

I talk about this openly because I want to help others find peace with their past. It has been an arduous and ongoing process, but one that I am grateful for because it’s teaching me how to understand myself better. This is a constant process. The self is like a plant. It needs constant nurturing if it’s going to grow.

I bring up my past story today because humans have an extraordinary ability to recall hurtful past events that have left psychological wounds but will still have a hard time finding their keys. Feelings that have caused mental anguish, leave a pathless wound. If not resolved, these wounds keep us lost and we keep re-counting them over and over again.

The past limits us from attaining our true potential. It inhibits us from seeing the beauty of the world. It causes us to ignore the fact that each day is a life gone, like a single petal falling from a rose.

I’ve been mindful and cognizant of how I let the past into my present. With day-to-day tasks, memory is a useful ally, but when those memories are obstructing my present perception, I am able to decipher the issue and get myself back into a place where I am enjoying the only moment we will ever have.


The commentaries below are ways that I have made peace with my past and the steps I’ve made towards moving forward. Also, it’s important to note that I am a work in progress. I come back to these lessons time and time again.

Self-improvement is an ongoing task. At the same time, it’s worthwhile because living a pleasant life full of joy is a responsibility we owe to ourselves.

Your Past Doesn’t Dictate Your Future
Photo by Kawin Harasai on Unsplash

This is an obvious sentiment to some, but for others, it’s a difficult realization to make peace with. We play stories of yesterday over and over again. We let these stories dictate and justify who we are.

The past is just that. A story that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s like a fire that’s been put out, but our minds hold us, prisoner, to these memories.

If someone upset you, let it go.
If you upset someone, let it go.
We all make mistakes, and we will continue to make them.

I feel as if there is an invisible level of perfection we all feel we need to attain. Our past experiences have molded us into who we are today, but the evolution of the self is a day-to-day intervention, and we don’t have to be prisoners to yesterday.

Be kinder to yourself.

What Others Think About You Is None of Your Business
Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash

I first heard this from the late, Dr. Waybe Dyer. He is coined as the “Father of Motivation.” Like many that have come to help others find their potential, he had a challenging life. He grew up in orphanages, and experienced abandonment, addiction, and unstable family life. However, he was able to find peace and uplift himself and others through his many books and speaking engagements.

When I first heard him say, “What others think about you is none of your business,” a light when on my head. The light has since turned off a few times and is currently flickering because it’s natural to want to be liked and viewed as good by others.

However, no matter how good you think you are, some will not see it that way, and this is okay.

For me, it’s alleviated the need to care too much about what others think of me. It’s far more important to try to develop myself into the best person I can be. We are like a self-made house. The more careful attention we put into laying each brick, the stronger our foundation will be.

Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash

I have brought this up before, but I can’t reiterate it enough. We will die. It’s something that I remind myself constantly. This may sound insane to some, but life in itself is an insane predicament.

Whatever your subjective belief, or non-belief, no one knows what happens after. I will go out on a limb and say I really do hope there is something after. After losing my mother last year, the desire to know that something else exists after our final dirt nap has only grown.

It’s made me forgive others easily. I can’t hold others’ past wrongdoings and misfortunes against them for too long. There are lots of terrible things in this world that are out of my control, but what I can do for myself is forgive those that have hurt me, because, in truth, their pain and suffering have come from within them. However, I still choose to live my life with a healthy level of optimism because everyone has the light of innocence in them, but it’s been darkened and plagued by unsettling experiences.

Forgiveness is a selfish act. Forgiveness is not for the person you are forgiving. It’s forgiving yourself for allowing another person to take the divine light that is within you. It’s forgiving yourself from letting another take power of your mind and hold you hostage in it.

Expectation Of Others
Image by jwvein from Pixabay

The mind is sneaky. In many of my posts, I use the mind as separate from the self. I do this because I don’t know where thoughts come from.

The self that I refer to is the entity that is able to filter the bullshit thoughts we have. Yes, they are birthed out of past experiences, but how do we think of them, when we do? How do they get into the mind?

The other day, I thought popped into my head of memory from grade school. My elementary friend ranked the best basketball player in the school, and I was third. I thought I was better than Garrett and Nick, and the meaningless conversation persisted for a few seconds until I started to laugh about it. Sometimes meditation can be a fun exercise when you just sit and watch the shit show in your mind unravel.

The past stories, especially of others that are conjured up from time to time can build an expectation. The expectation is birthed out of a preconceived idea we have of another or particular situation. They breed suffering. This is not to say that we shouldn’t remember past events that have caused us strife. I don’t think it’s possible to forget, but it’s important to remove them from a psychological perspective. Our time is limited and in my experience, daily practices like meditation, exercise, and journaling have become mental life-savers.


There’s an old story about a teacher who went on a hike with his pupils. The teacher came across a large boulder.

He asked his class, “Is that boulder heavy?”

To which they replied, “Yes teacher, it’s very heavy.”

The teacher replied, “Well, it’s not heavy if you don’t pick it up.”

Our past stories are like heavy boulders. We don’t have them pick it up. It doesn’t need to be lugged around in our lives. This is a constant lesson for me.

We all have the ability to re-invent ourselves. There is no peak to self-knowledge, it flows like a constant river.

We are all works in progress. I don’t know much, but I know this.

Join my email list below so I can share articles like this directly with you.

Finding Swamy Newsletter

* indicates required

With love,

6 thoughts on “#115 – How Living in the Past Is Stopping Your Progress and Some Real Ways To Overcome”

  1. My dear Anand…this was a beautiful read for me this AM…I struggle with so much of what you wrote and I need to continue to work on recognizing this chatter in my mind for what it is…something to acknowledge and then let go of…😘🌹

    1. Rose! Thanks for reading. It’s not easy, believe me, but the past holds us back and inhibits our progress to live a healthier life. You have been through a lot, and it’s important to not forget entirely, but let what happened to you go because that means taking your power back. Miss you and hope you’re well.

  2. Anand, I can’t thank you enough for your wisdom! It truly speaks to me. My husband is battling cancer, and it has been and is a very challenging time for me. What is happening is that things are put in my way that speak to me – a recent random podcast with Rabbi Steve Leder about suffering and grief – any and all messages from Wayne Dyer – my wonderful friends –
    reaching out to others each day with kindness, and to this list I now add you! Thank you for the uplift! 😘☮️

    1. Mrs. Rockwell, you are not alone. I am sending you, and your husband lots of love. It’s not easy taking care of someone that has cancer. My wife has her health issues, and it’s been challenging as well. What has helped me is looking at the struggles as a divine lesson. I feel grateful for the adversity. You have a unique opportunity to become better. Dr. Wayne Dyer was my first introduction to motivation and mindfulness. Sometimes I look at life and think about how things unravel. You, like all my teachers, were instrumental in my growth, and today, I’m 37, and we are still able to communicate. If you ever need a friend to talk to, your former student is here for you.

      1. Thank you, Anand! I just may do that! ♥️♥️♥️I have shared your writings with several friends who are quite moved! You are a gifted writer and have a very beautiful soul.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *