We’ve Got to Break Up with the Past

Break Up With The Past

We need to accept the reality that the past is not anything we’re going to get back to so we need to break up with the past. For so many reasons—regarding the coronavirus, our economy is going to be affected for years to come. We’re never going to hear a cough the same way again. We’ll be getting our temperatures taken by strangers on the regular. 

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On a different front, the Black Lives Matter protests around the country and the world are raising awareness that our systems are not working for Black Americans, and were never intended to work for Black Americans. We have to dismantle the old and build the new. And we have to break up with the past and shed our old ways of thinking that let those systems last as long as they did. We are at a no turning back moment.

The Beauty And Pain In New Beginnings

As hopeful as it can be to be at the dawn of a new era, there’s also the pain that comes from the past fading away. 

Every new beginning requires a death. If you have kids, your childless reality had to die away to make space for your new reality of being a parent. If you got married, your existence and identity as a single person had to die. Even though the next phase was a positive change, it still required a loss of a previous way of life, and loss is hard for humans. Loss meaning mourning. 

It’s a little like this:

Think back to a painful breakup you went through. How the realization that you weren’t going to do the things together that you used to do really brought it all home. No more holding hands on the sidewalk. And no more dinners at your favorite restaurant. No more watching your favorite show together. And no more of the things big and small that colored your relationship. When you were in the initial shock and sadness, you probably weren’t think about the bad things that were no longer going to happen; you were just replaying the parts you liked. On top of that, you didn’t know when your next relationship was going to happen. You had to reckon with the fact that everything felt weird. And because you were feeling raw and tender, it only heightened the weirdness. 

This is where we are as a society. 

Break Up With The Past

Sticking with the break up scenario, it wasn’t until you accepted that it was really over, that you weren’t going to have that person in your life in the same way. That you could start to break up with the past and move on. And once you moved on, you could appreciate the things you liked about being single, and even get to the place where you started a new, hopefully better relationship. 

Sadly, it’s not as simple as deciding to accept that something has ended. It’s a little bit of a process. I mean, you can declare to yourself, I accept this. You can fake it till you make it, a little bit. But at least at first, the most common reaction to change is resistance. 

Change is very often something that we didn’t ask for. Certainly we didn’t ask for a novel coronavirus to shut down life as we know it and take the lives of so many. Certainly we didn’t ask for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor to become the most recent in a long line of black people killed by the police. Even when change is something we want we resist it, because it means we have to let go of some old ways of being and humans are creatures of habit. But when change is thrust upon us, it’s common for resistance to get REALLY riled up. 

Resistance can take a lot of different forms:

Blaming

Judging

Indulging in bad habits

Bitterness

Complaining

Procrastination

Irritability

Body aches and pains

Resistance Is Natural

Anytime you get stuck in resistance, you’re going to increase your suffering. In addition, you’re going to be resisting the truth and the insights and learning that whatever it is you’re resisting is here to teach you.

Resistance is natural. It happens. The point isn’t to get down on yourself about it. The point is to acknowledge it for what it is—and at it’s root, resistance is about fear. It’s hard to accept things we’re afraid of. So we come up with all these things to distract ourselves from the fear. But you know what? We can do hard things. And we can do scary things. We can breathe through fear and it will dissipate. And we can take action despite our fear and our fear will lessen.

Daily Tiny Assignment

The first step to lessening fear and the resistance it brings with it is to acknowledge it. 

And that’s your tiny assignment for today: to  just acknowledge anything about the current state of the world that you’re resisting, or any ways that your resistance to the positive changes that are trying to come through now is showing up in your life. Just try to see it for what it is. Because there’s a really cool thing about simply acknowledging a difficult feeling—it helps that feeling begin to transform all on its own. 

SO much of the heavy lifting of change is simply bearing witness to it. When you can be honest about your fears and what’s triggering your resistance, your internal dynamic shifts and new possibilities open up. I wish that for you, me, and all of us. We’re in this together, let’s all try to get our heads on straight so we can make the new reality better for everyone. 

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