Whatever your past was, it’s gone now. Nothing you do today will change anything that’s happened already so you must focus your attention on what’s happening right now.
What makes this harder than it sounds, though, is how memories have a habit of luring your thinking back on times when you had it easy, or had it rough. You’re tempted to imagine yourself back then doing just one thing differently, and “if only…” you knew to do that, it would fix everything right now — instantly.
If you want to move forward in your life, though, you must spend less time wishfully reminiscing and more time actually living. Learn how to leave your past behind you and turn your attention to what is happening for you right now, because the only place to live is in the present.
You may be living in your past because you’re using it as an excuse for the bad aspects of your present life. I’ve known people who claimed that their neglected upbringing was responsible for all that was weak, defiant, or negative in them. I’ve known people who held one bad incident in their life responsible for everything bad that has occurred ever since — as if this sob story was their personal trump card with which they could turn the blame whenever they couldn’t admit responsibility for their own failures in life.
When you proclaim that your problems are a direct result from incidents rooted in your past, your argument gets weaker every day. It’s true that everyone needs recovery time to heal from painful or traumatic life experiences, but they aren’t to be used as a lifetime pass for making excuses.
If you’re living in your past because you’re fixated on things you regret, you need to accept that you’ll never be able to go back and undo what you’ve done. Learn to let go of your regrets, and understand that everyone makes bad decisions sometimes.
When you do something you regret, you’ll just have to face the consequences of your decision and learn from them. Instead of obsessively wishing you could change the past, you should resolve not to make such bad decisions again. That’s all anyone expects from you — that you can admit you made a mistake and will try your best not to repeat the pattern.
If you’re trying to relive past days that were better for you, know that there is no harm in remembering and appreciating your “glory days.” It is important, however, not to let these memories consume you — don’t forfeit your opportunity to discover the good times happening right now.
Remember that every day is a fresh opportunity, and we can make of it what we wish. Subscribing to that mentality can be difficult though — a bit like trying to write every day. Getting started is the hard part, requiring constant dedication, enthusiasm, and concentration to persevere. Once you’ve built up some momentum though, you find you’re living your fullest every day without conscious effort.