Who we once were, still lives inside us.
The person we used to be lives on in our memory— in our head and in our heart.
The child we once were. The teenager we once were. The younger adult we once were.
We relate to that past self— and often, it’s a rough relationship.
Many people tend to be not so cool to the person they once were.
We look back and see the things we didn’t know. We look back and see the things we didn’t do— or the things we did do ,and we regret.
We look back on our past selves and say, “Boy, I’m glad i’m not THAT person anymore.”
When we look back again and again at the person we were with disparagement, chagrin, and regret, we can come over time to hate our past self.
We look back at the kid we once were, and we’re appalled— and kind of frightened— by how weak that kid was.
We look back at the decisions our teenage self made, and we’re disgusted or saddened.
The thing is, the past self isn’t just a memory. That past self lives in us.
When we hate on our past self, we hate on ourself.
When we blame our past self, we burden ourselves with something we’ll never be able to change.
When we hold our past self responsible for things we couldn’t possibly have known or done at the time, we set ourselves up for feeling guilty and inadequate— without any way to change that, because we can’t go back and change the past.
It’s not fair.
Our past self did their best with what they had, just like right now we do our best with what we have.
We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We couldn’t do what we couldn’t do.
Our past self didn’t have the perspective or the experience that we have now.
Our child self couldn’t make decisions or take action that we can, now, as adults— and it’s unfair for us to be mean to our child self in our head because of it.
Hating our past self doesn’t solve anything.
It doesn’t make the past easier to carry.
It just makes the inside of our head a less safe for us to be.
We can forgive our past self for not knowing or doing better.
We can have a relationship with our past self that isn’t full of aggression and blame.
We can relate to our past self with compassion for what we were carrying then.
Relating to ourselves with compassion can be tricky. It doesn’t feel natural, especially if we grew up with people yelling at us, shaming us, and blaming us.
It’s on us to stop that pattern.
Yes, we’re not that age anymore and we might not be in that place or in those relationships anymore.
But that doesn’t matter if we’re continuing the cycle of shame and blame in our own head and heart.
Notice how you relate to your past self.
The kid you once were deserves love.
They deserve the benefit of the doubt.
And the deserve an adult to be on their side.
You can be that adult.
We can be who we needed once upon a time.
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