“One can never change the past, only the hold it has on you, and while nothing in your life is reversible, you can reverse it nevertheless.” — Merle Shain
What a juicy quote! I love the challenge to our thinking of this quote. There’s nothing for us to do about the past because it remains as it is. However, “the hold it has on you” can be changed. This is ever so important for all of us but is especially important for those with ADHD. Most of us with ADHD have leftover negative experiences, judgments (from ourselves and others), criticisms that haunt us, or just a more negative view of ourselves than is accurate. That’s because the symptoms of ADHD can be so frustrating and challenging — to us and to others!
So, if it is indeed possible to change the hold that your past has on you, what might that look like? One of the most powerful things to do is to change our perspective, and one of the ways to do that is to simply back away a bit. Instead of “not being able to see the forest for the trees,” back away from the trees enough to be able to see that there is a forest there! Sounds really simple, and it is, in some ways. But it can feel a bit more tricky when it comes to our own lives, which can feel like they’re “up close and personal” because they are!
Nevertheless, when it comes to our past, that is a little bit easier than what is current. Sometimes it can be helpful to imagine that you are telling something about your past to the most compassionate person in the world that you can imagine — someone who is always able to see how a past situation might have been really challenging and how you might not have responded as well as you would have liked to have responded. And they always see you with compassion in that situation, having done the very best you could have. And guess what? That’s because you did do the best you could have. If you had been able to do any better, you would have. You did as well as was possible for you at that time, at that age, with whatever internal and external resources were available to you. We were often missing some resource that would have allowed us to respond differently somehow.
Practice seeing yourself with that kind of perspective, with the perspective that comes from having a broader view of things and is more compassionate. It does take practice, especially because we may have become used to being judged by others or judging ourselves harshly. And it is so very worth it. Then, you can begin to experience what Merle Shain was talking about when she wrote “…while nothing in your life is reversible, you can reverse it nevertheless.”