Shaking off our past mistakes
"Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders."
- Friedrich Nietzsche
How often do you relive past mistakes in your mind? Maybe you did or said some things which you may regret and even made amends for, but you somehow seem to keep reliving certain memories on the stage in your brain. It's like this blooper reel that will not stop reminding us of how we screwed up, even if it was something unintentional or inconsequential. If we could, we would pay a memory amnesia fee to erase those memories so we can simply move on. If this does not happen to you, lucky you!
For those of us forced to relive those past memories in our minds, it can be annoying, angst-ridden and a big waste of time and energy. Since there is no fee we can pay or pill we can take, what can we do to rid those memories for good? From my experience, I have learned there is not much we can do but simply own it. Hopefully we learned something from it. We can acknowledge that it happened and get back to focusing on the present moment where life is happening in real-time. This is much easier said than done, but I have found some tricks that work for me.
The first thing I do is acknowledge it. I can't run or hide from it since it lives in my mind. Attempting to ignore it doesn't work for me. Then I remind myself that I have learned and moved on from that experience. I do not allow it to define me. I forgive myself and move on. For more recent episodes, I make a commitment to learn and grow from it. If it's a silly blunder, I remind myself that anyone else who was present is not thinking about it. They are too busy living their own lives. We give it a spotlight it does not deserve since the only audience is ourselves. Finally, I get back to the present moment by using mindfulness techniques and healthy distractions like phoning a friend or reading a book.
Our minds can be tough to tame at times, but we have the ability to direct our attention wherever we please with our intentions. Our minds do not own us. We own our minds. We get to choose which memories we cling to, but it's up to us to let the unpleasant memories pass as quickly as they pop up. Of course, past traumatic events is a whole different subject and may require professional help. I'm referring to little stuff we now see as inconsequential and irrelevant. We don't need or deserve to keep reliving that stuff. We have a life to live, and there is plenty of stuff to address in the present in order to forget the past. We can forgive ourselves and move on. We owe at least that much to ourselves.