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  • Writer's pictureLianne van der Walt

Dear Diary...

Experience has taught me that no amount of staying stuck in the past will do anything to help one move forward into a better future.

I have always loved writing. Everything gets chronicled, the good, the bad and the ugly. My notebooks and diaries are filled with thoughts, comments, observations and insights. I have an ongoing conversation with myself while trying to make sense of a lot of things. Speaking my heart to a blank page which is forced to listen without answering back or giving advice, allows me to voice even the most heartfelt of my emotions.

With such a collection of thoughts, I am often tempted to pick up an old notebook to re-read my thoughts and insights on a particular moment in time. Memories are alive with emotion – the good ones are treasures to be uncovered and re-lived with appreciation and love, the difficult ones are however a different story.

Going back in time to a particular moment – can pull you right back into that exact experience. The associated feelings come flooding back and often even an actual physical response is felt in the body. Reliving a memory over and over, reading about it, talking about it and thinking about it – keeps it alive. You are literally experiencing that same incident over and over again and with each encounter, you are re-creating the neural pathway in the brain. You are imprinting it on your psyche.

There comes a point in your life when you realise that it is time to draw a line in the sand. From this point on, choose to do things differently. You cannot keep going back to what has happened – going over it and over it again will not change anything. One cannot go back in time to re-live something which is finished. You are no longer the same person that lived through the experience, you have changed and life around you has moved on. It is only the experience that remains unchanged and firmly fixed in your consciousness. By hanging on to what was, you are creating more of the same energy and effectively holding yourself hostage to your own emotions. This will never allow you the freedom to heal and create a brighter future for yourself.

'No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.’ ~ Heraclitus

In my experience, the best thing to do with unhappy memories is to get rid of them. Thank them with love and appreciation for the learning that has come from the experience. The incident was merely the messenger, what is important is the message that sits behind it. Ask yourself the question, ‘What did this suffering and difficulty teach me?’ and ‘How have I changed as a result?’ Now you understand why it is time to move on. Nothing more can be gained from staying stuck in the past.

If the memory as in my case is written on a piece of paper – I tear it up, burn it or toss it into the recycle bin – all are therapeutic acts in themselves. In doing this you are actively choosing to let the memory go. This choice is an act of personal power - allowing yourself to move on forward without the weight of negative baggage which keeps reminding you of a time you would rather forget.

'The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams.’ ~ Oprah Winfrey

The person you are today is a result of all that you have experienced and learned. Nothing was ever in vain – every moment of your life has been instrumental in creating a new and evolved you. Releasing the memories that bind you, gives you the freedom to focus rather on what you have learned and gained in the process. This is the point in time when you choose a different future.

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