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Making Peace with the Past

Many of us living with addictions and mental health issues have a hard time letting go of our pasts. We carry the weight of our traumatic experiences. We struggle to forgive our mistakes. We dwell on our regrets. We cling to our shame and embarrassment. We tend to be emotionally self-destructive rather than self-protective, often because deep down we feel we are unworthy and inadequate. We allow our pasts to define who we are. Making peace with the past is a crucial part of our recovery.

When we are living in the past, we are giving our focus, energy and attention to the part of life we’ve already lived, rather than to the present moment and to the future we can work to manifest. We deplete ourselves of our hope and optimism. We assume that what has come before is a prediction of what’s to come down the line. Coming to terms with our past and releasing our attachment to it is an important part of the process of healing ourselves.

Let’s take some time to meditate on the past, on whatever incidents or issues we’ve been unable to move past. Often when we dwell on the past, we’re responding with difficult emotions that exacerbate our pain – shame, remorse, disappointment. We judge ourselves and beat ourselves up. These are all forms of emotional resistance. Instead, let’s meditate on our past and sit with it, allowing ourselves to feel acceptance and understanding. Take deep breaths. These things are a part of our past, and when we can accept rather than resist them, we stop the toxic pattern of giving our pain more power and control over us. We allow it to be what it is without fighting it. This can help comfort us and bring us a sense of peace.

Memories will come up that will likely sting. We will have emotional reactions that are hard to sit with. Allow yourself to feel them, and keep breathing. Use affirmations such as “I accept my past. I am making peace with my past. I understand my past. I forgive my past. I love and accept myself.”  Visualize a healing light filling up your entire being. Envision yourself incorporating these painful parts of your past into this light. Actively choose to give yourself the compassion and understanding you were denying yourself when you resisted your pain and rejected the parts of yourself that were painful. Our pasts are a part of who we are. Making peace with ourselves and our pasts makes it possible for us to heal and move forward in our recovery.

The Riverside community has personal experience with recovery, and we’re here to help you. Call (800) 871-5440.