Past is gone. Future will never come. Live in the moment or you’ll keep reciting same stories of the past that you lived in first two decades of your life.
Everyone is guilty of clinging to this one thing whether embarrassing or amazing which existed for a moment but our layers of imagination built on top of it make us inflict ourselves with emotional pain or indulge in nostalgia. That one thing in the past. Past is what it is, a moment of time that you experience with some permutation of a place, people, things and time of day, nothing more. Conversation, arguments, and beautiful moments happened. HAPPENED. As you spend more time in that flesh, you're going to experience more moments and they'll keep increasing and it'll all keep happening.
Then our brilliant but childish organ, brain, does what it should. For all the embarrassing moments you've ever experienced, it'll try to recreate those moments. One thing at which our brains are particularly bad is, recreating the past moments. Think of reality as the life of an average person, and your brain's recreation as the Instagram life of a billionaire rapper. Those recreations exaggerate already shiny aspects but won't even include the subtleties. So, what ends up happening is it'll exaggerate what happened to you, the humiliation that you'll face in your brain's recreated scenario will be manifolds of what you actually experienced, and it'll be amplified the fact that your brain is trying to tell you that all those people who were present in the moment are still thinking about it and mocking you.
But that pain is not even the worst part of it. The worst part is that you get stuck in the past. During teenage, you've gathered enough moments for your brain to savor on it for next few decades, and because you've felt so humiliated in your imagination, you won't even try to take any kind of risks but the truth is that happy, sad and embarrassing moments are inevitable, no matter how much you try to avoid them. For the brain to think about the past more objectively needs practice.
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Life is chaos
"Life is chaos" is the idea that you need to accept before you can let go of the past. During school and university years, the experiences that we get are more uncontrolled than what we get when we are in the initial 5 years of our life. We think that we can avoid all the "unacceptable" experiences by trying to overanalyze the situation, but we are so young that we don't realize that any upcoming future event will be totally different. Our brains' tendency to recreate the situation in which it corrects the mistake and thinks what you should do the next time for the moment to be perfect is predicated on the assumption that the next time will be the same. It won't. Even if you have the same situation with another person, well, the other person is different. There is no need to change yourself because you had one bad experience with one person, location, or thing. You'll keep changing yourself every time with no result because every new scenario will be different. Life is chaos.
I don't mean that you shouldn't improve yourself. You should, if that problem is dependant solely on you like if you're rude to everyone, well that won't change even if life throws a different set of people at you, only you can consciously improve your behaviour. If you lack money, only you can make that change by improving your skills and by being more marketable. But if someone didn't like that you play the piano instead of the violin because they like the violin, don't change yourself. Did you get humiliated by someone in public? Let it go. What happened, let it go.
Anyway, by genuinely accepting that life is chaos, makes you more accepting of the past and the fact that what happened in the past has a complete possibility to happen again even if you try your best to avoid. So, don't even try to think about what you can do to avoid something which isn't in your control even though your ego might make you think otherwise.
Noting is game-changer
Meditation is free. Consume it instead of Netflix. Mediation is nothing but the act of being in present and letting go of the past and future. There are many practices to do meditation or mindfulness but here's the one technique that you can perform throughout the day, and is simple to understand; it's called Noting.
What is noting?
Noting is the technique of bringing oneself to present as soon as you realize that you're distracted. Your mind will try to think and create imaginations but as soon as you realize that you're thinking about anything and not experiencing the current moment, you just note that feeling and bring your attention back to the present.
Noting has been a game-changer for me. The mind will flow with thoughts but because I've accepted that life is chaos and I've no control over it, it's very easy to just note that I'm distracted and I need to bring my attention back to the present. Otherwise, it would've been easier to indulge in the thoughts about the past and not live the current moment at all. And if you think about it, after a certain age when you've enough moments that you are just living in the past, all your upcoming moments, weeks, years will just be about the thoughts about the past good or bad.
Anyway, just by letting go of the past has helped me so much to take risks again in life, whether it's job, relationships, social interactions, or hobbies. I'm no more afraid of failing at any of them just because I failed earlier partly due to something which was in my control but majorly because of the factors which were not in my control. You are losing your choice to be happy and letting yourself be a victim every moment you spend reliving your past.
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” - Marcus Aurelius
That's it for this blogpost and if you feel that you've something to add to this or you've a different perspective then share it and discuss it on r/StoicHuman or go to the reddit discussion post for this blog post linked down below.
Stay healthy, Stay safe.
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That's it for this blog post and if you feel that you've something to add to this or you have a different perspective then share it and discuss it on r/StoicHuman or go to the Reddit discussion post for this blog post linked down below.
Stay healthy, Stay safe!
Journaling is your superpower. It's Free!
Follow our weekly podcast on Spotify called "Stoic Human Podcast". Also available on other platforms like Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Overcast, and more. Just search "Stoic Human Podcast".