Most people have heard some warning in their lifetime about living in the past. This detrimental habit is one of the easiest for anyone to slip into, no matter who they are. Whether you’re stuck in a past you’ve romanticized or simply can’t let go of an instance where you felt you were deeply wrong, being hung up in the past is not only unhealthy, but it’s detrimental to your future. In this article, we’ll walk you through all the ways in which being stuck in the past can ruin your present, we only hope you’ll heed our warning.
It can hold you back
Being stuck in the past, either due to nostalgia or a want of revenge, can cause you to hold yourself back from potential good for your future. If you’re hung up in the past, either trying to recreate or relive a specific moment in your life or trying to eradicate a mistake or get revenge over an issue, you can keep yourself from taking advantage of important opportunities that could have changed your life. It can cause you to hold yourself back, make poor choices, and keep yourself from enjoying and experiencing your life.
It can warp your judgment
Being stuck in the past, either in a positive way or negative way, can cause you to have poor judgment in more areas than just the decisions you make. If you’re hung up on a specific instance in the past, or more commonly, hung up on a specific person, than you may tend to compare others in your life to the person on which you’re hung up.
For those stuck in the past for nostalgic reasons, this can take the form of no one in your life being able to stand up to the comparison. Dr. Brene Brown stated: “Nostalgia is a dangerous form of comparison. Think about how often we compare our lives to a memory that nostalgia has so completely edited that it never really existed.” For those stuck in the past for negative reasons, it can make you less easy to trust people or can even cause you to alienate yourself.
Being stuck in the past can taint the way you view people and the snap-judgments that you make. It can cause you to view people only in the way that they are similar or dissimilar to the person on which you’re focused.
It can keep you from enjoying the present
One of the biggest ways in which being stuck in the past can ruin your present is by causing you to miss the present. If you’re too focused on the past, you miss everything new and exciting that happens in each and every moment of your day. You lose sight of what matters; you spend so much time living in the past that you forget to live in the present and end up missing out on the important parts of life.
Nostalgia can make us feel safe, warm, and happy, but it can cause us to miss out on those moments in the present. If you block out the present to focus on one thing in the past, you lose all the memories that you are creating in the present.
What to take away from this
While it is important to live in the present, you shouldn’t disregard nostalgia and the past entirely. Remembering a wrong that has been done to you or something that hurt you can protect you from facing it again. According to Dr. Constantine Sedikides, who spend years studying the impact of nostalgia on individuals, nostalgia can help fight off anxiety, loneliness, and boredom.
“Nostalgia made me feel that my life had roots and continuity. It made me feel good about myself and my relationships. It provided a texture to my life and gave me strength to move forward,” he said.
Nostalgia and memories are an important part in our lives, so we can’t disregard them entirely. It’s all about finding a good balance between remembering and being in the present. Enjoy your nostalgia and memories, but don’t let it get in the way of living your life in the present.