Ruminating with purpose

There are hundreds of articles and books that guide you to stop looking back at your past in order to move forward. I’m sure you’ve heard of or encountered at some point in your life someone to tell you that you need to get over your past or certain aspects of it. What does that even mean?

Our experiences shape the lens through which we view the world and the way we construct reality. It’s interesting that we seldom focus or ruminate over the periods of calm and peace in our lives, but we can vividly remember and see with our mind’s eyes the negatives, the pain and the suffering. Looking back, it seems that we feel pain and sorrow much more deeply and pleasure much too shallow.

We can’t “just get over” things –whatever that means- but we can try to understand what happened and learn from it. There is a reason why our mind focuses on those dark times of our lives. Those times are historical markers of our experiences, lessons that we were faced with and the solutions or lack of that we found for those problems in that particular moment.

I truly believe that instead of trying to push those experiences away and most time not succeeding, we may as well take advantage of the light our mind is shining on those issues and feelings and see where it will lead us. It can be quite terrifying looking those demons in the eyes and trying to make sense of them but in the end, you won’t have to hide anymore and live in fear.

Even though still painful, you have the capability of looking at the problem and the way you chose to deal with it (or not), to resolve it (or not), and determine what it is that keeps your attention in that direction. It’s possible that you can come up with some new angles you haven’t considered in the past; there is also the possibility that some of those feelings experienced then, may reemerge. Those are the emotions that remained unsolved from back then, emotions that make it impossible for you to “just get over it”.

We need the sorrow and painful experiences of our past to learn and do it better next time. Our skills to do this can only come from experience rather than books and cheap encouragements. Change and choice can only come from honest self-awareness; that includes both the past and the present.

Positivity is beneficial in the right context, not at any price and in any situation. Trying to stuff down your feelings through positive self-talk is an effective short term Band-Aid. It will stick for a while, but then it falls off and you’re back at square one. Going in deep at the root of those emotions, processing them and understanding yourself in that moment in the context of your life and experiences, is what works long term.

Intently staying with those feelings and negative past experiences can actually help if the purpose is to understand and find lessons from which to learn rather than seek blame or ways to remove responsibility.

I may be oversimplifying this, especially if you have a certain unique situation in mind. You might even feel that it would be impossible to get close or talk about that time in your life. If that is your case, you might want to ask yourself if what you’ve been doing so far got you to where you are now, or helped you. If you are reading these lines, chances are you feel stuck. Talking about it helps, in fact expressing your emotions whether through verbal, written, music, or images helps you solidify you relationship with yourself and others and get clarity in areas that are still blurred or hidden.