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Friday, August 28, 2015


Why do people tell us not to “dwell on the past,” or that we should “live for the moment and not look back?” Because bringing the past into your current and everyday life is not a healthy choice.

So many of us like to chew on yesterday. We like to take our anger or resentment at something a person did or said and chew on it like a piece of gum, over and over, switching from one jaw to the other, blowing the occasional bubble, gnawing at it for hours on end until it loses its flavor. We call that ruminating. Learning to let things go is learning to let go...period. It doesn't mean we should let anyone get the better of us or treat us in a way that takes advantage of us, but it does mean learning to let the small stuff wash right off of your back, otherwise you give power to negative emotions, people and situations which can suck you dry.

This being the case, you might ask, “Okay, then why have memories at all? Why are we able to remember the good and bad things that happened yesterday and the days before that? What would be the purpose? Aside from the obvious part about remembering loved ones and good times, I believe the answer is that our memories are reference points. We learn lessons as we go through life and we need to remember those lessons as reference points to not base future decisions on things that didn't work out or had bad results, and we need to remember the good things and the things that did work out in order to make similar decisions in the present.

The ruminating must be replaced with positive actions. As someone who was practically a professional ruminator and could chew on a bad situation for days on end, I know first hand how damaging this can be. I have worked so hard to turn this around and, while I am not there yet, I am seeing such positive and wonderful results when I don't let myself care about small things, things that now seem silly to me that I ever chewed on them in the first place. In fact, I have gone a step further and have found ways to turn situations into something that works for me. I have learned to stop and assess before I react and ask myself which direction to take things so that I achieve the best possible outcome. Again, I am still working on this new set of coping skills and, like all thing it is a process, but I have learned that reacting off the cuff as was always my go-to reaction, has not served me well. I would then chew on things that didn't turn out well. I'm just not that hungry anymore. If you can stop, even if you have to excuse yourself from whatever situation you are in if it involves other people in the room to slip into the restroom etc., then do so in order to make the best decision for you.

Anger is an off-the-cuff reaction and comes on quick. Taking that extra time to kick its ass before it kicks yours can mean the difference between a reaction that will cause you stress and render poor results that you will chew on, and one that will bring only good and positive things into your life resulting in happiness. My advice? Choose to not chew on it and enjoy life before it's gone.

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