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3 Reasons Why Your Past Matters

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” observed the writer George Santayana. That holds true for global affairs, and it’s certainly the case when it comes to personal growth. In order to make positive changes in your life, it’s often helpful to spend some time exploring your past. Here are 3 reasons why your past matters:

#1 Information

Before beginning the process of changing unhealthy patterns of thought and emotion it’s essential to identify what those patterns are. In some cases, these patterns are evident based on reviewing only the previous few days or weeks, but usually it’s necessary to go further into the past and explore one’s early family life, memories from school, and relationship history. The hope is that while collecting information about your past certain patterns will begin to take shape.

#2 Explanation

Having gathered information about your past and taken note of the patterns it reveals, it’s then possible to piece together an explanation for how those patterns developed. Sometimes it will become evident that a certain tendency was “inherited” from a parent or perhaps grew out of a reaction to difficult life circumstances. In other cases, a specific trauma that was minimized or compartmentalized will be newly understood as a crucial life event. Either way, the hope is that providing insight into your past will help explain the challenges you are facing in the present.

#3 Validation

Finally, having pieced together information about your past and hopefully explained how it led to the challenges of the present, there is an opportunity to create a coherent narrative of your life. This can be particularly meaningful if you have long been confused by unanswered questions about why your life has taken a certain course, or why you find some aspects of life to be so challenging. The purpose of exploring the past is not to pick at old wounds or blame anyone for old mistakes, but to help create a story of your life that provides you with a feeling of validation and perhaps even compassion.

Although you can't change your past, you can learn from it and find meaning in it. Your past matters because it helps you make sense of why you are the way you are and establishes a foundation for future change.

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