Putting the past into a useful and manageable perspective is one of the most important accomplishments a person can achieve on behalf of supporting and bolstering their own wellness. This is always true psychologically, and may sometimes have physical manifestations as well. The past belongs where it was — in the past.
A human life is one book that begins at birth and has its final chapters as the life nears its end. Between the covers, pages are turned as time passes. How the current and the next pages are written are certainly influenced by the ones that came before them. However, we do not read the book from back to front and except for the need to occasionally refresh our memories by reflecting backwards, we are better off turning the pages in the forward direction.
Our lives, health and wellness are on the page we are reading and writing and on the one we will get to after we turn to the next page. The future is never found or predetermined on the pages that have already been written and/or read. In the words of an old song by Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde, “Yesterday’s Gone.”(1965).
When we focus our attention and thoughts on memories of the past, we reduce or spend energy from our limited bank of it that is probably needed for today. It is also good to hold some in reserve for tomorrow. The past is certainly not without value. To the extent that the past helps guide us in the here-and-now and into the future, it is a good and useful thing.
When the past, however, becomes a preoccupation that interferes with our ability to fully engage in the business of today, it has become a problem. It has stolen parts of ourselves away from where they are most immediately needed into a realm where, no matter what we do, nothing can be changed. The past.
Memories compared to present experience can be reasonably compared to reading old maps to try to find someplace rather than using an up-to-date GPS.
Old maps can be fascinating. However, they are frequently dated and inaccurate as the world, both in large pieces (entire nations) and small segments (towns, roads, bridges, etc.) are in a state of constant flux. Likewise, the past can shed a marvelously engaging light on what was, but can never be a truly reliable source for being in touch with what is or shall be.
If this were not the case, only history would need be taught, learned and understood. All else would become irrelevant. Of course it is not.
Memories live in the past. The past is gone and is no longer subject to change.
Wishes and hopes have their homes in the future. It is today that requires our attention and is the time where we can have the greatest impact and make the most meaningful difference. Doing so enhances our overall health and sense of well being.
Health and wellness, for most people, is enhanced by living in the here and now — The present tense.