We all have what might be referred to as ‘rear view mirror’ life references. These are often more influential than we realise. But they can be valuable.
There can absolutely be an advantage in finding the courage to look back and embrace the things in our past that might have angered or wounded us. The fights we’ve had and the scrapes we’ve come through - these mould us, and shape how we perceive our experiences in life moving forward.
When we remember things - instances, occasions and people’s actions and reactions towards us – sometimes we do it in a matter-of-fact manner, which is frequently the way we have come to remember it happening, and sometimes we recall the way we interpreted the events at the time, which was not always positively.
These interpretations have an often undetected but very serious impact on our confidence, our ability to progress with vivacity and our feelings of worth. By that I mean our ability to feel worthy of achieving what, somewhere deep down, we know we are, in the face of something subconsciously telling us that we aren’t worth it anymore. Too often as humans, we pack these experiences away or shut the door on them because of the amount of pain or discomfort around addressing and acknowledging them. Often shame plays a part, justifiably or not, in the feelings we associate with recollection of these memories.
Carl Gustav Jung, the founder of what is known as analytical psychology, referred to these as Shadows - quite simply put, parts of ourselves that we hide, repress and deny. Not comfortable places for us to peer into, which is why so many people never do. However, the process of being willing to go within ourselves, where most fear to, can provide more reward and better access to living a full life than can be imagined.
Conversely (and this is the good news), we all also have vast amounts of what is referred to as Gold. Similar to the concept of Yin & Yang in Chinese philosophy, seemingly opposite or contrary forces – Shadows and Gold - may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent, even to the extent of giving rise to each other as they interrelate.
Our Gold is the good things about us, the positive parts of our personalities, the things we dream of and know we are capable of and our abilities to leave everyone we interact with feeling like a million bucks. Our Gold is the gifts we see in ourselves and in each other - and it shines as brightly as a Shadow can be dark. We can't have one without the other and we wouldn't know what good was unless we knew what bad was. The trouble is that we often have a tendency to allow the feelings associated with Shadow to drown out the Gold.
Having the odd look in the rear view mirror is OK, even essential sometimes, if you don’t want to be blindsided by something creeping up on you. But let's not forget about future focus, otherwise known as ‘Solution’ or ‘Destination focus’ – because we maintain forward movement by looking ahead through the windscreen, with only the occasional glance in the rear view mirror.
It's beneficial for us to take some time healing parts of ourselves that may have been wounded in the past, but not by spending too much time there. The key is to make use of the rear view mirror in clearing up, understanding and embracing the wreckage of our past, in a way that we learn and move on from, without regret.
If you’re struggling and you don’t know why... if you feel like you know you could be doing more or being better and you’re not quite sure what's holding you back... it could be those subconscious and debilitating interpretations of past experiences. Those ‘I wasn't myself’, ‘I never act like that’ moments that we hope never to have to tell anyone about can hold us back without our realising it.
You may already know how to do what I'm about to suggest or you may not. Sometimes the things we know, we forget to do - so give this a try either way.
Take a moment. Silence and centre yourself as much as you can and are willing. Imagine an ideal world for you. Think big. No limitations. No obstructions. Nothing stopping you and holding you back. No fear, no anxiety, no dwelling on the past. Be kind to yourself, love yourself and imagine this world.
Now, knowing that you could do and achieve anything you wanted to in this world, what would that be?
There are things behind us that we might rather forget. It’s important though to embrace not only our good but also what’s perceived as bad, in order to acknowledge these and make them part of who you are, instead of an enemy that you fight daily in the back of your mind. Leave the Shadow in the background, but integrate the dark and light to make up the whole - wear your wounds with pride and face forward with determination towards what you want.