Living in the past

Living in the Past Can Be Bad, Bad, Bad: Law of Attraction Screw-ups

Discover how living in the past can negatively impact your present and learn how to turn things around using the Law of Attraction.

The bad news is that I haven’t gotten my Law of Attraction efforts quite right yet, even after three very effective years of practice. The good news is that I keep learning, tweaking, perfecting my attempts, and I’m getting better every second.

After relaxing into my LOA efforts over the summer of 2010 and allowing something wonderful into life in the autumn, I had a massive screw-up and almost lost something that had become very important to me. Whereas some of the fall months had me adapting quickly to some lush but shaky new ground I wasn’t used to, by the end of November, I was looking back at losing my emotional grip within a scant month and not understanding—at first—how I’d gone so quickly into a downward spiral.

I spent about 72 hours in seclusion, pondering the events of the previous three months and trying to figure out where I’d gone wrong. I’m not one of those people who can simply not think about where I got off course and be back on course. I had to ponder things, figure out my mistakes, and then I can not repeat them. I have to purge the old and harmful.

Though I often write about painful elements of my past, it’s usually in a way to work through them and purge them rather than to relive them. I write about it and I’m done. It may raise its head again and I have to write through it, or a different aspect of it, again but outside of my writing, I don’t talk about it and relive it. That’s where I made a huge mistake back in November.

I was asked about a particularly painful time in my life. It’s not something I discuss and seldom have written about. It’s in the past and I don’t dwell on it much anymore. I’m aware of it from time to time, and the wounds inflicted, but I don’t think about it constantly. I know absolutely that I can’t think about it constantly because if I do, my focus shifts to all that pain, and I can’t stay serene and happy.

In order to help a friend, I explained this painful episode from my past. I answered deep, probing questions about it. I spent several days talking to my friend about nothing but that awful time and how I dealt with it so that he could feel more secure in some of his own decisions.

And then, the next week, there were more questions, more reliving those memories, more going back there in my head and thinking about it. I began to find myself weary of it and dreading talking about it, but I also wanted to help my friend to get through a particularly hard time, so I relented and dug deep into my past.

This continued off and on throughout the month, and I noticed that I was becoming less happy and more emotionally turbulent. To my surprise, I also found the same situation from my past starting to repeat itself in the present.

Uh-oh! Not good!

How did I go from being cheerful and happy and thriving to suddenly upset and insecure? What had I done?

In my radical reappraisal of what was happening in my life at the beginning of December, I realized that the way I felt–as well as the pattern I was seeing repeated–was the same as I’d endured during the terrible time I’d been asked to recall repeatedly in an effort to help someone else. You see, the brain doesn’t really recognize the past. If you can go back to the past, back to memories, and think so deeply about them and the emotions of the time that you FEEL them, then you are reliving them. You are living in the past.

In my case, I was back to a difficult time full of loss and despair, feeling all those feelings again, drawing the same things to me again to lose and despair over. I stopped smiling. I stopped laughing. I feared ridiculous things that hadn’t happened yet would come to pass, just as they had back then. My entire attention had been refocused to a time of loss, insecurity, pain…and as I relived the past in words and thoughts, I began to repeat it in the present. I’d lost my sense of happiness and serenity.

After a few days of deep thought, I turned the situation around. The first step was in ceasing to discuss the past turbulence to help my friend. Answering an occasional question for the rest of my life, I felt, was okay because that didn’t require a commitment to my past. However, deep daily discussion of every detail of that era of my life and living there emotionally? No. Ultimately, my friend didn’t really need as many details of my own situation as he thought in order to figure out his own path.

Once I disengaged from the past, I felt an immediate sense of relief. I regained my perspective. I returned to my “happy place.” My friend noticed right away how much happier I was, almost overnight. I dumped the pain I’d gone back into the past and picked up. My current situation that was shockingly repeating from the past cleared up. I became more at ease, more serene. And…from this new perspective of serenity, I was much better able to help my friend by being an example of happiness rather than a victim of the past.

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