When something really bad, something tragic, something I will never forget, something that almost killed me happen in my life, I always thought that I have to understand fully what happened in order to move on, or at least gain some insight from what happened. Because that’s something confusing, something unresolved, something need to be explained. I even told others to do the same thing. But I stuck there, because what I have said didn’t seem right. The answer might never be found. Also, the search for answer is a continuous activity, an energy-depleting behavior that might take you a whole life. It can be suffocating, frustrating and pull you back to the incident you do not want to recall every time you think of it.
I have no answers, maybe that’s just life, may be that’s just how we function.
Until I met two men.
The first one is Augusten Burroughs, the author of This is How: Surviving What You Think You Can’t. Burrough wrote, there is no point searching for the answer. You don’t need to understand your past from different perspectives, nor that be a good idea when this was already gone for so many years. As accurate as you can recall, is only precise and accurate on your behalf. Keep focusing on the past is an obsession.
As strange as the sentences suggest, this seems right. I tried adopting to such thinking and came up with a conclusion. Recalling the past is not a bad thing, but can’t let an incident go certainly is an obsession, an abuse of ourselves. No matter how bad it was, it no longer holds. Yes, this might happen again, but as far as we know, there is no way to avoid it nor to understand why this happens, we better let it go for the bigger good of our lives.
Further more, Augusten gave some advice. ‘You can’t stop yourself from living at the moment. That’s the problem. See your obsession and stop it. Then focus at the present. Draw a line to separate the present and the past. There are always things happened without proper explanations. An innocent man got killed but no one knows how this happened, for example. Sometimes things can’t get justified. Accept what happened, and put it back to the past. Adjust your focus back to the present. The main point is what have to be done NOW.’
The second man is a psychologist who recorded part of his lectures on the internet, said, people obsessed with the past is like someone gave you a present you don’t really like, but still you held the present so tight that you forget you have the choice to put it down, for decades. They forget to throw it away, looking at it with dismay everyday.
That’s quite impressive! Some people holding on to things that were long gone and kept reminding people around them how poor they were, they are actually reminding people to say they are already doing good, reminding people around them to say something nice. They are self pitying. They are still living in the past when a bright future is just in front of them. You can let go, if you are ready, if you allow yourself to. You can be brand new, you are no longer the Ugly-duckling. You can be better and stronger, just a shift of thought, you can start all over again.
After some time contemplating all these, I decided to throw away my belief- understanding the whole incident as the only way to let go and move on. Understanding the situation and keep recalling the emotion-aroused incident is an important step that could not be missed before acceptance is reached. But that’s not the only way to let go. If that does not work you can still choose to forgive, life still goes on.
Because life always surprises us with things beyond our understanding.
*p.s. the things both men said only fit in the situation where the incident happened long time ago and the person have already reached acceptance.
Burroughs, A. (2013). This is how. New York: Picador.