Something I’ll never forget from reading John Green’s book “Looking For Alaska” is the quote “How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?”. We all have our own unique, personal labyrinths to get out of. In the book, the labyrinth symbolizes pain & suffering, but our labyrinths don’t have to necessarily be those two things. We can each even have several labyrinths that we need to get out of and I believe that our past is one of those labyrinths.
We all have a bad habit of living in our pasts, whether we accept it or not. Some of us rethink our past choices every night before going to bed, or we re-live past traumas that we wish we could forget. Every day, we try to fight our old tendencies and try to shed off our never-ending patterns, but most of us fail.
Most, if not all, of us succumb to our past mistakes and experiences and let them define us. We try to move onto newer things, perhaps even better things, but usually, we sabotage ourselves along the way. It’s not an intentional thing, but it happens. And then we’re reminded that we’re the same failures that that we always believed we were. But have you ever thought that maybe you chose that failed journey because you knew you’d fail? Did you ever think about how you’re still surrounded by the same kind of toxicity you used to be in the past, yet just think you’re “cursed” and that the toxicity follows you wherever you go? Sure, we can’t control what enters and leaves our lives, but have you ever thought that maybe you allow those toxic people or habits or thoughts stay in your life because you want to prove to yourself that you are in fact cursed?
Recently, I’ve begun reading Gary John Bishop’s book “Unf*ck Yourself” and the book opened up my mind to how I could be sabotaging myself because I feel I don’t deserve anything good or am the same un-confident girl my peers used to tell me I am. But then, I remembered that I gave those thoughts and people the power to make me feel small. I allowed them to infect my mind with negative thoughts about myself. And whenever I failed at doing something, I always said “I told you I’m no good at this” out loud, whether to a friend or to myself. This book, paired with how I’ve always viewed the past as a labyrinth are what encouraged me to write this article. I decided that I must not be the only one who goes through downward spirals like this every now and then. I believe that even if I’ve made some slight personal breakthrough in this subject, I must share it because like me, maybe others need that “push” that opens their eyes.
Our past is the hardest labyrinth we’re ever going to get out of. Why? Because it’s the most personal, painful, manipulative, and powerful obstacle in our lives. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one, or failed a class, or were bullied by people. Perhaps you have problems at home, or lost your home once. It doesn’t matter what happened, because whatever it was, it’s made you who you are today. It’ has defined your fears, your goals, your personality, and your coping mechanisms. You can’t change what happened to you in the past, but you can choose to not let it control you anymore. The moment we set limitations for ourselves, is the moment we’re allowing ourselves to fail and to hide behind our past and blame our surroundings and circumstances.
What Gary John Bishop’s book or every other self-help book advise is that “we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it”. You can either choose to give up and let your past define you now and forever, or you can decide that enough is enough and that it’s time to put your fate and future in your own hands.
The only way to escape the past is to not escape it at all. The best way to get out of that labyrinth is acceptance and willingness. You accept what has happened to you, and then you decide that you’re willing to not let it control you, move on, and go after the things you’ve always wanted. When you try to escape this labyrinth and fight it, it fights back. The more you avoid your past and blame it, the more it controls you. The best way to accept your past is to understand it. Figure out what things have happened to you in the past that could have affected how you think about yourself and your surroundings. Writing it down is the best way to understand and accept your past because writing it down turns it into something physical rather than an abstract thought which makes it more tangible, more controllable, and more fixable. You can hold the paper you wrote on in your hands, and it’s as if you’re holding the past and are returning the control back to yourself. You accept what you’ve gone through and accept that it’s affected you. Then, you can finally move to the next step and decide whether you’re fine with it controlling you and whether you want to change that or not.
You’re not going to get out of this specific labyrinth so easily; even when you decide you don’t want it to control you anymore, you’ve only “turned to the right corner and are closer to leaving the labyrinth”, so to speak, but you still have a long way to go. What I can guarantee to you, however, is that the journey will keep getting easier and easier with each step you take.