When people have been hurt, offended or upset by someone they love, it’s not uncommon for them to bring up the incident that caused the pain again and again. Often it seems that the more intense the hurt, the more frequent the reminders. It’s almost as though people believe that if they remind the people of the hurt they caused then they can insure that hurt won’t happen again. These reminders can go on for years—with the same intensity sometimes as if it happened yesterday. As a result, the people who caused the hurt begin to feel hopeless that they will ever “live it down” and the one who was hurt is left wondering if they can ever truly move past the hurt.
Although I totally understand the pull to bring up the old hurts of the past during the difficult times of today, I also know that doing this keeps relationships stuck. Bringing the past into the present is seldom a helpful dynamic in relationships; it stirs up old wounds, leads to one partner believing they will never live “it” down and creates distance and resentment within a couple. While it is okay to remember, learn from and look at the past, it is not okay to dwell in it or continually throw it in your partner’s face. Sometimes good people do bad things—not because they’re bad people but because they’re human. At some point we have to learn to let go of the toxicity of the past so we can make room for some sunlight in the future. If you are either always looking at the past, or always ignoring the past, you are robbing yourself of that future sunlight.
Look at the past to learn from it, not to punish. Look at the present to insure the past is not repeating itself and to insure you are both on the right path for creating a healthier future. If your partner, friend or family member has stopped doing the behavior that hurt you in the past – then stop reminding them of it; tell them you appreciate the work they have done to change it and do what you have must to let it go.
Challenge: Is there something you continue to bring up from the past? If so, ask yourself if that behavior is still going on and if so, is it the same or has your partner been working on it with positive changes? If it is not going on, commit to not bringing it up anymore – put it to rest for the sake of you, your partner and your relationship. If it is still going on, then address it in it’s present form and don’t attach it to the past behavior.