So, it’s a quiet Sunday afternoon and I’ve found myself on the sofa watching The Lion King, a particular favourite of mine but a film I can’t bring myself to watch very often as it’s one of those emotionally exhausting films that evokes both emotion and thought. It’s a film about so many things including family, love, morals, leadership and overcoming obstacles, not to mention the foundation of all Disney films – good overcoming evil.
But this particular time, the magnetic quote that drew my thoughts the most was the notion of how much the past can determine the here and now, and even the future. Or can it?
When Rafiki speaks to Simba he says, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”
We can often feel like we are defined by our past. We can look back with regret, we can wish we’d done things, wish we’d not done things and wish we’d done things differently. We can beat ourselves up about the things that were in our grasp or in our control and that we missed or dealt with wrong. Even more so, we can look back and let resentment grow over the things we had no control over ourselves, the things that happened to us. The things that happened to us because of the thoughts or actions of others. But really, underneath it all, do all these things determine who we really are now and who we will become in the future? The simple answer is, only if we let them.
In Rafiki’s wisdom, he acknowledges that the past can hurt. And it really really can. But the key is in what he says next. He says we can either run from it or learn from it. Ironically, I personally believe running from it has the same effect as continually ‘living’ in the past. It drags us back, takes over our thoughts and brings our focus away from today, from the here and now. What Rafiki teaches Simba is that he is in charge, he can make the decision as to how much or how little he allows the past to rob him of his life now and in the future.
Simba suddenly sees that how he responds to what has already happened is down to him and him alone. So … what should we all remind ourselves? That we can all too easily allow ourselves, often without even realising, to slip into the ‘victim’ mentality, where we are suffering and sad and resentful and whatever else because of the things that have happened to us or the bad decisions we have made. The reality? While this may be the case, it is down to us as to how much we allow it to take over. Because at the end of the day, living in the past is never healthy.
Choose the positives. Choose to turn wrong decisions, negative experiences and mistakes into learning curves that build your character, make you stronger and shape you into a better person. Live in the here and now, wipe your own slate clean right now and look around. Enjoy the sunshine, go for a walk and breath the fresh air deeply into your lungs, do whatever you need to in order to forget, to forgive, to do whatever you personally need to do in order to move forward. Because life is a new blank page every day. Your whole future is ahead of you. And that alone should be exciting! So … look ahead, look forward, be kind to yourself, be ambitious and focus your thinking to being the best you can be and enjoying life as it unfolds.