What are the most effective ways to stop myself from dwelling on my past mistakes?
Past mistakes are nothing but stories embedded with negative thoughts and feelings inside our mind. They are similar to a recorded video footage labelled “mistakes”. They don't exist in the present moment.

What are the most effective ways to stop myself from dwelling on my past mistakes?

Great question!

I used to dwell on my past mistakes all the time before. Thanks to meditation, I’ve overcome that and never think about past failures in a negative way anymore. In this post I share what I’ve thus far realized on my journey, and I hope that it will be useful to you.

What are past mistakes?

We function in a similar way a camera does. With our five senses, we take pictures of everything in the world and store it inside our mind. We also imbed our emotional state in these pictures. This happens all the time, even right now. What we experience is our subjective view of the world, and our emotions are inside this subjective picture.

Recall a moment from your life when you felt happy. Perhaps you can notice where you were at this moment, with whom, and so on. Just by thinking of it, you will recognize that same happy feeling you experienced back then. The reason for this is that the happy feeling is embedded in the picture. If you do the same thing with a painful moment in your life, you will recognize that pain again.

Consequently, past mistakes are nothing but stories embedded with negative thoughts and feelings inside our mind. They are similar to a recorded video footage labelled “mistakes”. Viewed in this way, it becomes apparent that past mistakes don’t exist in the present moment and that they are not real. Even though we logically can understand this, why is it so difficult to see beyond our past mistakes?

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The nature of our mind can be described as ‘sticky’ in the sense that it clings to the pictures it takes of the world. This is attachments. The degree of stickiness varies between people, and a determining factor for our proneness to develop strong attachments to past mistakes is the amount of inferiority we have in our mind. If we have a strong inferiority complex, our mind is likely to get stuck on events and thoughts that entertain this inferiority complex, such as past mistakes or times when we otherwise felt inadequate. These attachments make it difficult for us to move on.

What we need to understand about attachments is that our mind loves them. Although we might say that we hate to ruminate over past mistakes, it is one of our mind’s favorite pursuits. The reason for this is that the pictures present something familiar and safe for the mind to entertain itself with. Picture of past mistakes match the inferiority complex in the mind, which makes it much more convenient for the mind to ruminate over these events than to break free from them and move on.

The importance of freeing the mind

What I’ve come to realize through meditation, is that we should make it our top-priority, our mission, to free ourselves from the bondage of our mind. If we do that, a wonderful and joyful life awaits where we are always happy and never dwell on past mistakes. We always live here and now.

Before I did meditation, I thought that statements like ‘living in the present’, ‘freeing the mind’ or even ‘becoming truly happy’, only were buzzwords without any real truth behind them. I didn’t think it would be possible for anyone to actually achieve the required state of mind or level of consciousness for that to happen.

However, the more I meditated, the more I understood that this is in fact possible. The reason is that meditation takes us back to reality. As we empty our mind, we see that everything in fact is reality; we can see this because our mind has become reality. This reality is not cluttered by thoughts of past events. It is just what it is. Right now, and right here.

A life of reality is flow. We just do what we do, and as we apply our mind to a task at hand results will come as a natural consequence. This is a principle. Living a true life is a much higher life than a life cluttered by thought of past mistakes or other worries. We owe it to ourselves to make an effort to come out of the mind, because only then are we able to see the true meaning and beauty of life.

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How to free the mind

The way to become true is by getting rid of the videotape of pasts events along with all the thoughts and emotions that are attached to these events. In order to achieve this, we need to practice a meditation that makes this possible.

There are two aspects to meditation: introspection and letting go. By looking within, we become aware of what we hold in our mind: stories, concepts, thought-patterns etc. These are all constraints that prevent us from being one with truth/reality. By letting them go, we free our mind and gradually return to truth/reality.

If we want to get rid of past mistakes, a good start is to go through these mistakes from a position of allowing. Sit comfortably and look within. See every time you’ve made a mistake; let the events come up in your mind without resisting them. It is likely that you will start to feel bad about yourself. This is a good sign because it shows you the attachments of inferiority and pride. Allow the past mistakes to come up and also allow the pain to rise within. Don’t fight it. Observe the pictures and let them pass.

As we do this, the attachments will begin to disappear. It will no longer hurt to see the mistakes, and they will appear less ‘interesting’; we will not have any real desire to entertain our mind with them anymore. This is the first step of becoming liberated.

As pointed out above, a person who can’t stop thinking of past mistakes is likely to have a strong inferiority complex. Therefore, it is important to look back on and become aware of every time we didn’t feel good enough, not loved, accepted or worthy of love. Just as with the past mistakes, these moments are stored in the mind like pictures. Let them come up and let them pass. In this way, we start to root out the mind of inferiority, which has been fueling our mind’s tendency to dwell on past mistakes.

In order to find complete inner freedom, deep and thorough meditation is required. It takes time and patience. I recommend to find a guide to help you with this process. They can show you how to empty your mind in a simple and systematic way.

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A state of mind where it’s not possible to dwell on past mistakes

When the mind is cleansed it will no longer be possible to dwell on old mistakes for the simple reason that there won’t be any past to dwell on. We completely live in the present moment, which is reality, and this is the best way to ‘stop’ dwelling on the past.

The things we have gone through in life, such as mistakes and other hardships, have now become useful experiences. Instead of causing pain, they have transformed into capability and capacity, through which the wisdom of the true mind can operate. This is a beautiful thing.

These days I always recommend people to meditate. It is the universal solution. No matter how big or small your problem is meditation will help because it brings you back to wisdom and truth.

Thank you for reading. Please take a minute and check out the video below, it describes what I want to say in a very simple and beautiful way.