A friend opened my mind the other day to a new way of looking at those things from the past that we can’t seem to let go.
She said, “When the past calls, let it go to voice mail; it’s got nothing new to say.”
This bit of advice has been circulating for a while, so you might have heard it before. The truth is, there’s a reason the past keeps calling to remind us of our worst moments, to remind us of the bad choices we’ve made that we’d rather forget.
The past continues to call because we have not heard the message it has for us. The message is that we cannot forget the past before we have forgiven ourselves for it. The past will continue to call until we have finished with it by forgiving ourselves. Sending the past to voice mail only prolongs our suffering.
It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves when really, all we are called to do is love ourselves. We show love for our current self when we forgive the imperfections of our past self. Have you noticed, the good choices of our past are not the ones that keep calling?
All of our past choices are part of who we are. We find it much easier to be open to those past choices that proved to be good ones. But we find it much harder to be open to those post choices that proved to be bad.
Wanting to close ourselves off from our past bad choices makes it impossible to forgive ourselves for those mistakes.
It’s much easier to forgive ourselves our past bad choices when we remember that decisions are like restaurant meals. We order off the menu. We like the meal, or we do not like the meal. We might love part of it, but hate the rest. We might be disappointed in how the chef prepared it. We might say that what we got was not what we thought we were going to get. No matter what, we are free to choose a different meal the next time around.
It is the same way with our decisions. We choose from among a number of options. Sometimes, we like parts of a decision, sometimes, we regret the whole thing. Sometimes, our decisions do not bring us the results we expected. Sometimes, the consequences of a decision stick around for a while, the way too much food leaves us feeling uncomfortably full. Sometimes, the consequences last much longer, the way repeatedly eating too much, or drinking too much, take their toll on our bodies.
When the past calls to remind us of bad decisions, we can look back on that old self and say, I am not the same person I was. My present-day self forgives my past self and absolves it of all guilt. Next time, I’ll choose differently. My old self has paid its debt. My old self is now free to go.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: We have a choice when the past calls. We can try to push it out of our minds, or we can answer the call with these words: I accept the choice that I made. I made the best decision I could make given who I was at the time. Next time I am faced with that set of circumstances, I will make a different choice. Until then, I forgive myself.