Don’t Let the Past Determine Your Future

No matter how hard we want to, there’s one thing we can never do and that’s change the past. We can weep, beat our fists against the wall, eat bags of cookies to assuage our guilt, but it won’t make the slightest bit of difference and won’t make us feel any better. The past is gone, over, no more, finito.

So why do we continue to live in the past, either by longing for it to repeat itself, fearing it will happen again, or regretting what happened and wanting to do it all over anew? Continuing to wish that either the past would happen again or that it had been different, means that we’re really not here in the present. We’re living in the land of what-was or what-might-have-been or if-only.

And if the past was either too painful or too boring then we switch to the future, that place of infinite potential we want to believe could be real, or that place of fear of what might happen but hasn’t happened yet; we live in what-could-be or what-we-hope- never-will-be.

Of course we can learn from the past. Often the most painful experience turns out to be our best teacher; we can even be grateful for what happened as it taught us so much. And memories can be like comfortable old shoes we are reluctant to part with. We can certainly put them on now and then, but we don’t have to hang out in them on a permanent basis.

Instead we can look at what happened with present-moment-eyes. This means looking without hope, longing, regret or fear. Fully accepting that the past is irreversible and the future doesn’t exist means we can actually be in the present moment. What a relief! Finally we can just be here and now. Wow! What a revelation!

One of the greatest wonders of taking quiet time out, as in meditation, is that we quickly see that nothing is fixed, solid, or permanent. The experience of meditation is one of being completely and utterly present, which may sound simple but is actually quite rare: normally we’re distracted by issues hanging over from the past or anxious about issues coming up in the future, we bounce back and forth like a monkey jumping from branch to branch, anywhere seems better than being right here.

The egoic mind always needs a drama or distraction to feed on. The more awake we become the less of a job the ego has until it becomes redundant. So, to preserve itself, it thrives on confusion and chaos, constantly distracting us from being really present. When we are present then demanding thoughts do not disturb us, even anger, resentment, hurt, or other negative emotions have no power.

When present we awake to the potential in every moment. As spiritual teacher Gangaji says in our Be The Change Meditate e-Conference, in meditation we see what comes and goes—our thoughts and feelings, longings and anxieties—and what stays, which is who we truly are within ourselves. No matter if the past was wonderful or woeful, we are freed of left over hang-ups or unfulfilled desires, of future concerns or longings, and rest in awareness.

Today is a very special day. It has never happened before and it will never happen again. And we have no idea what will come next. What a great day just to be here. To show up NOW. The perfect day to let the past rest where it is and let the future take care of itself. As is every day. To experience just this moment, to pay attention to the colors, sounds, smells, and sensations; to be compassionate to your feelings, and other people’s feelings. And to make this day one of beauty and tenderness, a choice we are given every moment.

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Be The Change Meditate e-Conference will uplift and inspire you. It includes Marianne Williamson, Congressman Tim Ryan, author of Mindful Nation, Sharon Salzberg, Robert Thurman, Gangaji, Joan Borysenko, Seane Corn, neuroscientist Richie Davidson who proves how meditation affects the brain, Gabby Bernstein, Tara Stiles, and us, Ed and Deb Shapiro, authors of the conference companion book, BE THE CHANGE: How Meditation Can Transform You and The World. Expect your life to never be the same again!

For more information:

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Elena T.
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you :)

Elizabeth Pugliese

Yep the past is the past. Move on and try to do better in the future.

Daphne H.
Daphne H.2 years ago


Ernie Miller
william Miller2 years ago

Very good info.

Ed And Deb Shapiro

Mary B - Brilliant! well said!
Thank you :)
Treasure yourself,

Mary B.
Mary B.2 years ago

sometimes people learn from the past so strongly that they project it onto the present moment, thus distorting The Now, and then imagine more of the same for the future. Then it appears we haven't learned from the past, we just never had a big enough comprehention of it to intergrate it accurately.On a personal level one can use 'what happened in my past' as an excuse for all kinds of things. On a national level groups drege up ideas from the past that may have been perfectly suited to the world as it was THEN, but simply cannot be applied today. I think the ideal formula at both personal and national level would be to understand and
accept the past as best you can, knowing that your info is not the totality, Observe the present as clear eyed as you can stand, decide what needs to be done to give relief where it is needed [hint. It's probably not going to be cutting social safety net programs] then send out a vision for the kind of future you want to see and watch for unusual impulses to action in your mundane life. This may be what the Shapiros were getting at with their last paragraph.Just relax into the future because it is unknown and we don't know what our action steps will be yet, but if you've learned and observed and imagined something better, your inner impulses will guide you to where you say you want to go. Trusting yourself is key.

Monica May
Monica May2 years ago

Great the last paragraph

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga2 years ago


Spirit Spider
Spirit Spider2 years ago

Nice and simple. Thanks :-)

Leena K.
Leena K.2 years ago

Thanks - we have to move on!