At a basic level there are really only two kinds of memories.
For many of us, the first type are all too familiar–and the most problematic. We remember the pain of the past: a failed relationship, the promotion we didn’t get, the hurtful comment of a relative or friend, an apology we “deserved” and are still waiting for, any number of actions that somehow or other hurt our feelings. And on and on.
The other kind are those that lift our spirit: remembering the birth of our child, the feeling of first falling in love, hoisting that trophy, crossing that finish line (literally or figuratively) or, as we do in the United States today, honoring the memory of those who died in service to our country.
Until someone invents a time machine that allows us to go back and attempt to fix that which didn’t go as we would have wanted or planned, ruminating on negative memories keeps us stuck and limits our potential. At some point, as Lily Tomlin allegedly said, “we must give up all hope for a better past.” The only thing that allows us to move on is to forgive unconditionally and let it all go. Easier said than done, I know.
While it’s possible to get just as stuck on positive memories–and at this point you might want to sing an impromptu version of “Glory Days”–they still typically fill us with love, warmth and compassion. They remind us of what’s possible. They serve to put life in better perspective and sharper relief. They steep us in gratitude.
Most importantly, when we acknowledge the two kinds and are aware of the keen differences, we can more clearly see how getting attached to one set is not in our best long-term interest.
And then we get to make a different choice.
This post was also published on my more spiritually oriented blog I Got Here As Fast As I Could.