Have You Really Moved On?
Let’s face it: there are many parts of our past which we are not “okay” with, which we wish hadn’t happened, which we prefer not to think about. These parts are better buried somewhere deep in our minds (so we think).
Unfortunately, these are the parts of our past that need resolution more than ignorance. Because these are not just parts our past that are unpleasant — these are parts of us that are unpleasant to us. The guy who insulted me seven years ago was not just a guy insulting me. It was a part of me getting injured, broken and permanently damaged because of the insult hurled at me by some guy.
Sometimes, some very rare times, we may feel like we have “moved on” and don’t really care about it anymore; but when we take a deep, honest, sincere, frank look at ourselves in the mirror, we can clearly recognize the part that was damaged — and still is. We just prefer to think we have moved on, because we don’t know how to really move on and heal the part that was damaged. Because no one told us.
How to Know if You Have Moved On?
If you can recall an incident (no matter how apparently insignificant) from your past and look at it without feeling any low energy emotion — like anger, frustration, helplessness, dejection, rejection, hurt, sadness, jealousy, longing etc — and feel like you genuinely understand the other person(s) in that incident also, then you have moved on. If that incident does not trigger any low mood and low energy in you, then you have moved on — from that incident.
Else, be honest with yourself, and admit that you have not yet moved on. Because acknowledging a hurt inside yourself is the first and most vital step towards healing it.
Why Is It Important to (Really) Move On?
It is important to first understand why we need to move on, to be able to do what is needed to get healed. Many people are not entirely convinced that they need to move on. They feel that it doesn’t matter if we continue with life in the same way.
If you are really happy and fulfilled in your life and couldn’t ask for anything if I gave you a wish, you probably don’t need this technique. Most people, it so happens, are not really there yet.
All past memories related with a certain emotion are stored in the same part of the brain. Which means, that if a set of incidents caused a certain emotion in us, then the memory of that incident is stored along with the emotion. So, if anything similar happens, that same emotion is also immediately felt. So, if I feel guilty in a certain kind of situation, without really understanding why I feel that way, even though I logically know there is no reason to feel guilty, it is probably because I felt very strongly guilty in a similar situation in the past, and that emotion gets triggered every time anything similar happens.
And this is also the explanation of why some people have a very volatile anger, some people are very submissive, some people are very aggressive, some are escapists, some highly perfectionist and so on. It is a pattern of response that keeps repeating with greater force every time something happens outside our comfort zone of the things we “like”.
To give the essence, if we have not moved on and healed from a hurt in the past, it is like an unhealed wound which feels the pain & the person reacts every time it is touched & messed with. Because the past incident is not an independent incident like it should be, but a wound living on inside us and we are juggling with these “triggers” all the time.
Now Let’s Move On
This is a technique for busy people. Wherever possible, I have tried to give a short and a long version of doing the exercise, so you can choose according to the amount of time you have.
Please maintain a notebook or journal which you keep with you all the time and where you can write practically any time. Please make sure that no one other than you reads this journal without your permission.
Every time you go through a negative, low energy emotion in some situation, pen down your feelings in the notebook. Write down everything, do not edit. This is you writing for yourself and hence you need to be really, brutally honest about this. If you don’t write down something you feel, it is going to remain inside you like a bullet stuck in a wound. If while you are writing, you remember any other incident when you felt the same way, write that down as well.
As you write this down, go through these emotions with full intensity.
Don’t be scared that it will mess up your day. We are scared of intensity, that is the reason why most of our actions and emotions are “half baked”. Let your emotions come up with full force (just don’t do anything to hurt someone else). Relive and relieve your emotions this time. When you go through something fully, it leaves your system.
If/when the emotion you are writing about becomes too intense, take a break of maybe 10-15 minutes. Use the restroom, use the terrace, go to any place where you would be by yourself, undisturbed, for a few minutes. Now allow all the pent up emotions to come up and go through them fully.
If you have time and can be by yourself in some place, face yourself in a mirror and visualize that the person in the mirror is the injured and wounded part of you from the past. Face the person in the mirror — make eye contact. Listen to what the person in the mirror is saying. This is really important. Most of the times you will be able to “hear” the hurt person from the past saying something — and the biggest thing you can do to heal that person is to listen, really listen.
When you are more or less done writing about the incident/happening and reliving your emotions, write down the following four things in the context of the same situation:
What you think about yourself: this is not what you generally think about yourself. This is what you feel about yourself in this situation. You may be a PhD and yet feel like a fool when you feel someone is “rejecting” you. This is what you need to write down when you are writing about this situation.
What you think about the other (in the situation): Please write what you think of the other person in the situation. This is what you broadly feel about the world/life at large also. If you think a little more deeply, you will see that it will be true in many situations in life.
What you project or show yourself as: Please write what you do in the situation in an attempt to handle it. This is what you project yourself as to the other person, and people at large.
What you feel the other thinks of you and expects from you: This is your perception of what the other in the incident thinks of you and expects from you.
These four are the four identities we carry with us wherever we go — these 4 identities are the foundation stone for everything we do in life. These 4 define what we think of as our possibilities and capacity in life. And hence, to move on, we need to shift these four ideas we carry in life. The wound we carry are these four limiting identities.
Now, pause for a few minutes, and re-cognize and acknowledge the fact that whatever you wrote about how you felt about yourself in the situation is not true! None of it is actually true! Those are just ideas you formed from an incomplete understanding of an incident. But, that happening and your feelings about yourself do not define who you are!
If you have the time and can face yourself in the mirror, tell the person in the mirror that these ideas he/she has are not true. Say it verbally.
Now, consciously tell yourself that you are pure consciousness, which cannot be defined or contained in that incident in the past. Just be silent and let this truth sink inside you.
Consciously shift the ideas you formed about yourself in a moment of unawareness and suffering.
Write this down as well.
Now, clearly see, that whatever you do in the situation to handle it, is not really the best way to handle it. It does not help — because when we project ourselves as something different from how we feel, it creates a distance with our own selves.
The idea is not to now do the opposite of what you were doing, but just to acknowledge that what you were doing till now wasn’t useful. When the strong negative emotions leave your system, your inner intelligence will get awakened, and you will automatically know what is the best way to handle the situation.
This part involves healing the part of us that holds negative emotions for other people. Hence, it may require talking to other people, or atleast visualizing the other person in the mirror. This part also involves all our ideas in relation with the other — what we project ourselves as, what we think of the other and what we think the other expects from us. Remember that the “other” is the other in this situation, but these are the same ideas we carry about life in general. Resolving these with the people involved in the incident repairs our very ideas of life.
Before doing this step, make sure you have done all the previous steps.
Now, if you have the time, sit with a mirror and visualize that the person in the situation is now in the mirror. Ask this person whatever you want to ask and say whatever you want to say to him/her. You may be surprised, but you will be able to hear an answer. When the other answers, make sure you really listen.
If you don’t have the time, please try to find the time ☺ This is a step that cannot be completed without taking a few minutes to listen to the other person.
You can now also talk to the other person on phone, or in person about this situation. But remember that the purpose behind this talk is not to fight, blame, expect something etc. The purpose is just to resolve something that was unresolved for you. Even if there is something you want to say, just say it with the purpose of healing your own self, not with the expectation that the other will reply in a certain way.
PS: If you think someone may be aggressive or hurt you, please do not make contact with that person and do the mirror exercise visualizing the person instead. Please use your discretion in this.
Relax. Just be where you are and sit for a few minutes without doing anything.
After practicing this technique, you may feel lighter. The more you practice this technique, the more aware you will become of your own emotions and perceptions and where they are coming from. This may be very new at the beginning, but it only means that the garbage stored inside you in the form of negative emotions is starting to empty out, leaving you a clean inner space to operate from.