Do not brood over your past mistakes and failures as this will only fill your mind with grief, regret and depression.
1887 – 1963
Rabbi Nehama Benmosche once said, “I have given up all hope of a better past.” I love that thought; there’s so much wisdom in those words. We would all do well to stop and think about what it means to “give up all hope of a better past”.
Like so many others, I’ve spent far too much time trying to create a better past. This effort has ranged from formulating simple, perfect comebacks hours too late to rethinking major, life-altering decisions. I’ve spent hours trying to correct mistakes from childhood. I’ve wasted plenty of time and energy thinking of all the things I could have and should have done differently. But no matter how much effort I put into trying to create a better past, absolutely nothing in my personal history ever changes.
I’ve worked with countless people who constantly dwell on mistakes they’ve made. They always seem to be either explaining, justifying or rationalizing their past behavior. Some even become so paralyzed by the past that they can’t function in the present.
On an intellectual level, I know that no matter how much I think about the past, no matter how many times I replay certain events, the ending will always remain the same. It serves no useful purpose to keep replaying our mistakes–yet we all seem to be slaves to this habit.
How would your life change if you “gave up all hope of a better past”? What if you could just accept everything that’s happened to you? I don’t mean liking all of your past, but simply accepting that what’s done is done; nothing you can do will change your history in any way.
When I catch my mind drifting to some unfortunate experience from my life, I remind myself of that quote. Giving up hope of a better past frees my mind to focus on shaping the events of today.
I’ve come to understand that trying to create a better past mentally traps me in old events and circumstances, and that’s not a healthy way to live. I’d much rather work on creating a better present.
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
Copyright © 2021 John Chancellor