My subconscious is torturing me. Deep in the night it inflicts the worst of my pain, but it follows me throughout the day, flashing images of a past I hardly knew existed. Major mistakes are acknowledged but largely ignored as it prefers to focus on minute, obscure gaffes that hold no relevance to the person I am today. My memories are filtered by unconscious influences and their desire to see me suffer. Nothing but negatives flash across the memory reels, but I know there are good ones hidden somewhere.
Unfortunately, the repetitive themes my tormentor plays before me suggest otherwise.
Memories & Mistakes
One thing I miss about being younger is the ability to make a mistake without knowing it’s a mistake (unless it was done deliberately). Life was like a trial and error experiment. Now, my subconscious seems to go through memories with a fine-toothed comb. It picks out the ones that weren’t mistakes when I was in the moment but are considered to be in the present. My mind is tricky like that. And one of the many things that sucks about being an adult is that I have enough experience to make better decisions (at least a little bit better) and there are few excuses to defend the poor actions I take.
Claiming ignorance doesn’t cut it as a grown-up.
For whatever reason, my biggest mistakes in life don’t care to haunt me too often. It’s the little ones creeping up unexpectedly that poison my mind and flood it with negative thoughts. Nighttime is the worst because it’s easy to fixate and get stuck in a loop; not enough distractions to occupy the mind.
What I can’t seem to understand about this is why these little memories plague my conscience so. Most of them were insignificant and likely caused little-to-no harm and were forgotten by anyone other than myself.
I’ll give you an example: when I was a kid, no more than six or seven, my dad went to a Notre Dame Football game. When he returned home, my brother and I were excited for whatever gift he held behind his back, and the smile on his face indicated it was going to be a good one. At the very least, he was proud of his selection.
The moment the gifts were revealed our faces sagged in disappointment. I can’t remember exactly but I think we were hoping for a football or something shiny.
We got nerdy beanies with fuzzy balls on top instead.
The look on my dad’s face then matched my brother’s and mine. I felt bad for pooh-pooing his gift so quickly but would grow to love the hat in later years which, I think, made my dad happy to see.
This memory and all the guilt associated with it crept into the front of my mind a few nights ago, and I agonized over it for what felt like hours. What’s worse is it forced me to remember other instances of my ungratefulness and how terribly selfish, spoiled, and unappreciative I was.
While my character has improved (I hope!) since then, these types of memories taunt me, telling me that’s who I am and not who I was.
One reason why I use Keep Moving Forward as my slogan is because I want to remind myself to loosen the grip that the past has on me. All these negative memories and thoughts do nothing but damage the way I view myself and cause extreme mental torture over events I cannot change. For the last decade, this mental anguish has been detrimental to my confidence and self-esteem and has riddled me with guilt.
Moving Forward is not about forgetting or ignoring the past. It is about accepting history for what it is and using the lessons learned to carve a better path ahead. There will be mistakes along the way, that’s life, some of which I’ll make repeatedly, but it’s about making a conscious effort to forge a future-self I can be proud of.
The solutions I’ve come up with to combat these memories include learning to forgive myself, asking others for forgiveness, acknowledging my mistakes but forcing my thoughts elsewhere, and developing a desire to focus on the self I’m building for the future, not the one deteriorating in my mind. I’ve applied these to the above example and continue to work on being grateful.
Every day I tell myself to move forward because the past does not define the man I am, it merely shapes who I am becoming. I will use the knowledge gained to strengthen me on my journey forward.
Before you go!
Does your past haunt you as mine does? Is it the little or big things that haunt you most? Has anything helped you move forward? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section!
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