Living in Today, Pt 2: The Dilemma of Past Tripping

It can happen anytime and anywhere. Something in your surroundings stimulates a familiar feeling, stirs up a memory settled deep in the depths of your past, or sifts to the surface reminders of a secret stuffed down as far as your strength could muster. And you go back; Your mind winds back down the road of regrets to the day, the hour, the moment just before something went awry. 

Then you relive it. 

Maybe you hear the unexpected words of someone you trusted ricochet in your mind.

Or feel your heart dropping all over again as you remember how the life-changing news washed over you.

Or maybe your face flushes as shame and humiliation resurfaces.

Or anger begins to boil up from within again. 

Or perhaps you yearn with sadness and longing for the ways thing used to be.

Suddenly, your whole day has shifted its course. You spend your morning and evening drives replaying the scenario in your mind—imagining what you could have done or said differently to change the outcome, beating yourself for up for not handling the situation differently, or holding imaginary arguments with someone who should have handled things differently. 

By the time you get to work or get home you’re exhausted from racking your mind only to find out what you already know—no amount of ruminating can undo the past or bring it back to the present. You find yourself stuck, unable to move forward because you want to go back to redo or undo what is done.

It’s a painful place to live. Letting our minds piddle in the past pulls us back into our hurts and regrets, where heartache and resentment regain footing and reemerge. While learning and growth can certainly come from excavating past experiences and mistakes, letting the mind free fall into the past usually lands your thoughts spinning their wheels in the ditch. Taking control of a mind gone rogue can be challenging; however, being able to redirect the mind back to the present helps maintain a healthy mental and emotional state. 


Up next from Lauren:

Part 3. Simple Tools for Staying in Today