FILE THESE UNDER: Things that for the majority of my life, I was unable to do…
- Stop looking back. Basically stop analyzing the crap out of the past – the shoulds, the coulds, the woulds. I found so much comfort in the past because as long as I could live in Past-ville, I had an excuse for not being in touch with reality and not actually doing anything. Taking action is difficult because it’s scary and it means that the past really is over and my past was so much more addictingly dramatic and painful than the repetitive looping Vine video that my life had become.
As long as I lived, loved, obsessed and had a ph. D in the past, I was totally justified in talking a big game to everyone about how everything was so great and all of the exciting things I was accomplishing. In reality, I had nothing to show for it because I never really did anything. How could I? I was always exhausted from dwelling over a past that dictated my present.
- Obsessing way too much/Having way too many f*ucks to give. You won’t meet a person that cared more than I did about what other people thought of me. I don’t even like to use the term “care,” it seems too casual in my case. I would let the actions and opinions of others dictate my mood, my health and my self esteem. Just like when you’re dating a guy or you have a friend that turns out to be super flakey but you really care about them and give them the benefit of the doubt and then one day you realize that this person has become nothing more that a collage of excuses that you’ve made for them – I was a self-painted, self-constructed collage of the opinions of others. I felt lost and like any little breeze could knock me down. In fear of getting labeled as “too sensitive,” I would internalize it all. I was the “wronged girl” in the movie of my life, on an endless search to find “acceptance” and be universally liked.
Remember: “What other people think of you is none of your business.” – Paulo Coelho
FAST FORWARD TO NOW: I’m so far from perfect that the words “far” and “perfect” shouldn’t be in the same sentence when describing me (or on the same page. or website.) BUT, I’m happier. I feel at peace. I sleep at night. I don’t obsess about stuff that happened yesterday, last year, in high school, etc. I have zero sh*ts to give. I’ve become friends with my old arch-enemy, the present.
So how do you do you get there?
Getting out of the past is tricky. It’s even harder to do with stuff like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. because there is a literal timeline where you can hop right into the past anytime, anywhere and there are no consequences. No one will ever know. You can get in your car and play THAT playlist, drink THAT wine (not in that order), go to THAT place, in THAT dress that you did with him and rewind all over again like a loaded psycho donkey.
I remember being so stuck on a relationship that I couldn’t bring myself to wear certain items of clothing that I wore in the relationship because it hurt too much. Or when I didn’t want to change my nail polish because when I got my nails done for a particular date, I was so happy and now…the dude’s gone MIA and for me, taking off my nail polish would be like saying good-bye that little bit of happiness. I know it sounds crazy, it is. I was so dependent on others “making” me happy that I needed it like a drug. But just like a drug, when you don’t get your fix, you fall. Hard.
You get desperate and desperation can be detected from a mile away. So there I was with chipped nail polish and days that were consumed with analyzing the “what if’s” and “I should have’s.” Days that I’ll never get back. I promise you that one day when you are very old and you’re on your deathbed, you will not be wishing that you spent more time looking back. If you can’t help but stay stuck in the past, just remember that there is an extremely high price for doing so:
For every moment that you look back, you do so at the expense of what is destined for you to be, experience and become. You rob yourself of your destiny.
So how did I finally stop always looking back and obsessing? I made a commitment to forgive myself, to come to peace with the past and I recognized the direct connection between obsessing over the past and giving waaaaay to many f*cks. I cared to a serious fault about: what people thought about me, how I came across, WHY certain people didn’t like me, how I looked, what I had/hadn’t accomplished, childhood stuff, and the list goes on.
& here’s a portrait of me today:
How’d I go from
caring so much obsessing the f*ck out of things that didn’t matter to being this cat drawn above with zero fucks to give and happy-go-lucky?
I realized six things:
- People care about themselves. Notice how you obsess about what YOU did/didn’t do and don’t really focus as much on others or hold them nearly as accountable as your hold yourself? Notice how you can’t forgive yourself for not knowing better? Notice how you hold a grudge or are stuck on what others did to you that hurt you? Guess what? You’re not the only one. The one person that people think about the most? Themselves. Including you. No one is obsessing about what you did/didn’t do nearly as much as you are.
- This is very sad to think about but I always remember it because it’s reality and it helps me live more consciously and in the present moment. If I am lucky enough to be alive in 50 years, most of the family and people I know will either be ashes or 6 feet under. The dealings, mistakes and drama of yesteryear won’t matter. Forgive yourself, make mistakes, tell and show the people you care about what they mean to you and realize that none of this will matter. I have yet to see a hearse with luggage attached to it. We can’t take the material things with us. All we can take is the memories. Create some good ones. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
- Forgiveness of yourself slays trauma, regret and obsession.
- Nothing that anyone does is because of you. What others do or don’t do is a reflection of THEIR state of mind and being. I didn’t understand this for a very long time. I thought it was bs, but then I got to thinking about the hurtful and selfish things that I had done in past relationships and friendships. I really examined my actions and I realized that what I did was never really about the other person. It was about where I was at mentally at the time. You could say “but you cheated on him because you found out he was cheating on you.” um, no. You can’t “make” anyone do anything. You don’t have that kind of magical ability or influence, no one does (thankfully). I chose to react that way in the relationship. Instead of exiting the relationship like a class act with my dignity in tact, I decided to get into a teenage cheating pissing contest. What I did was about ME, not about the other person. I was very ‘eye-for-an-eye.’ No one MADE me be that way. Anything anyone does or says to you – good or bad – is about them.
- REMEMBER THIS ONE: If you don’t activate it, they can’t activate it. Let’s say you have beautiful blue eyes. If someone went up to you and said that they didn’t like your brown eyes, you’d think that they were nuts and continue on with your life. You wouldn’t lose sleep over it, obsess about why they thought your eyes were brown and go to Thailand to get elective eye color reassignment surgery. You’d just think “okay, whatever they want to think.” You know you have BLUE eyes and it would be a nonissue. I have a negative bra size. The bra expert at Victoria’s Secret told me that my bra size was sports bra (the adult version of a training bra). I’ll never know what it’s like to drive over a speed bump and feel my boobs bounce. The term “bounce” will never be in my boobage vocab. So, you’d think if I went on a date with a “tits” guy and he suggested that I get implants and that he’d even pay for them (this has actually happened) that I’d be crushed? No. For me, it was the same thing as someone calling my brown eyes blue. My boobs aren’t an issue to ME, therefore no one can activate an insecurity that isn’t there. Don’t give me wrong, there are DEFINITELY things that I am insecure about with my appearance, where I am in my life, my work, but what I’ve gotten really good at is the second that I notice that insecurity, I do everything that I can to recognize, acknowledge and disarm it. Kind of like deactivating the alarm when you come into your house. If the alarm is off, no one is going to activate it, no matter how hard they try.
- STOP TRYING TO BE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WANT / WHAT YOU THINK IS “PROPER” & “RIGHT.” If I cared to be proper and inoffensive to the extent that I used to, I’d be attempting to fall back on my degree right now, unhappy, unfulfilled, not doing what I love and definitely not writing this post right now. I’m bound to disappoint, make mistakes and offend people. I do it every day. I’m fallible. I’m human and you wouldn’t want to keep reading if I was filtered and writing like some politically correct bot. I care more about what I think about me and less about what others think is ‘right.’ Being this way also helps me listen to what I used to deem as heartbreaking criticism, and take it for what it is: an opinion that I can take, or leave. As long as you’re doing what’s best for you and you recognize that we are all doing our best, you’ll start to give less of a sh*t about the inconsequential stuff. No one had the perfect parent, no one will have the perfect friend, and no one will find the perfect soul mate just as no one will be the perfect parent, friend and soul mate.
We were put here to EVOLVE, not be monotone perfection from the moment we exit the womb.
The second that you get in your own corner and have your own back, you’ll care less about what others think, more about what YOU think and you’ll see that not only is life worth living in the present moment, but that the past is right where it belongs – behind you.