During the umpteenth time this week that I have watched Lion King with my daughter, once again I am hit by a significant moment in the movie. I’ve pulled the poignant clip here:
Wow, what a true statement. How many times do we get hung up on the past–old hurts, fears, insecurities… It’s easy to say “get over it,” but every one of us knows that’s easier said then done. In dealing with various family situations through coaching, child care, and my own personal life, I’ve seen where generational struggles can eat up any peace in a home. It’s a hard balance to embrace the past as that significant part of who you are today, and also acknowledging that what is in the past doesn’t mean it has to be your future.
Actually, the more I think about it, the more ironic it is that we want to run from our past. When you watch a scary movie, what keeps you scared? It’s that image, running over and over in your mind. It sparks your imagination, it grows even bigger, and creates even more fear. What happens when you fear becoming like your father, or you fear rejection like you grew up with, or your mother’s condescending words ring in your ears? We want to block the image, we want to run, and what do we end up doing? Dwelling on it!
Going back to Earl Nightingale’s famous words, “You become what you think about.” It’s scary that our issues from the past–the fears and insecurities we run from–end up being the issues we can dwell on most. And unfortunately when we start dwelling, it’s easy to start becoming what we fear most.
What a downer. How wonderful that we have a choice in this! Not everyone has a bad childhood, and not everyone has deep family scars. But we all have made mistakes in our lives, and we all have things that we can look back on with more wisdom now…so, how will we deal with our past? How will we be in charge of the present, and of our future? Not by running, not by dwelling, but by how we learn from it. Embrace it for what it is: your past. It’s your story. It’s what has made you the person you are today, so be grateful that you are present. But remember that the past only stays a mistake, failure, or dark secret when you learn nothing from it. Learning doesn’t mean harboring anger and resentment, even though you may have every right to do that. Learning doesn’t mean you block off all emotion. Learning means you have to grow–you have to take what you can and move on for the better.
Remember that you are wisened now…although you cannot erase history, tomorrow is a mystery…more importantly, think of it as “mystory”…or “my story”. You get to write the future. You get to take the wisdom from your past lessons and create a beautiful future. So in the wise words of Rafiki, “you can either run from it, or learn from it. What are you going to do?”