Letting go of the Past: How to deal with people who keep resurfacing

Letting Go

Hello again…

I’m all for letting go of the past, but lately it’s been hanging on for dear life. I’m  not one to look backwards or dwell on where I’ve been. I’ve learned that people aren’t always going to stick around and that’s ok. Some of them are lessons. Some of them arrive to help you out at certain points in your life. And some of the best ones will become your lifelong friends. But with a rash of people contacting me right now, I was forced to really analyze what causes people to resurface, especially after decades of time have passed.

The first thing you should look at is why this is happening. Because people come back for a variety of reasons. Some of them are healthy and some of them are not. Before you decide to respond, consider the reasons why the past is reaching out to you, so that you can make educated choices for your best and highest good. Often times people perceive this resurfacing as a sign or a message that you need to reach out in return. But before you respond to anyone, know that you are not required to reciprocate unless you feel good about it.

Let’s look at some reasons why our past returns…

Being unhappy with your life:

Sometimes life kicks us around and we feel a little lost or unhappy. This is usually when we look to the past for answers. Did a wrong choice somewhere derail our whole lives and cause this misery or discomfort we are currently living with? The answer is only something you can decide. When people revisit the past it can be because they are searching for a time they remember where things were still good and they were happier. The best thing for them at this point is to work on themselves and avoid using others as a crutch. Especially those that haven’t been around in a while and do not know what they are getting dragged into.

Living in the past

Sometimes people hold on to memories from their past. If someone comes back after a long period of time they might be remembering the good times. And they think they can simply walk back into the same moment again if they contact you. Unfortunately people change over time and this factor doesn’t get taken into account. I’m not the same person I was 5 or 10 years ago. Are you? I find this to be an important consideration that is greatly overlooked. Mostly because things here tend to go south quickly when the reality of a situation doesn’t meet someone’s expectation of it.

Unfinished Business

Maybe things just ended on a bad note from one or both perspectives. Maybe things were never very clear so they left us feeling confused and unsettled. As we move along in life we realize where things went sideways, or where we made some choices we feel bad about. While some people can let it go and move on. Others feel the need to apologize or clear the air whether they receive a response or not. This can be a good thing if you feel like you need closure and both of you can deal with the situation like mature adults. It might even be a chance to reconnect if you like. If you were the one that was hurt or on the short end of the stick, perhaps you appreciate the gesture but don’t’ feel like reopening an old wound. Do whatever feels right for you.

Unrealistic Expectations

This one goes back to someone who is unhappy. Because of everything that’s going on they may feel lost or hopeless and are unsure of how to get back on track. So they convince themselves that reconnecting with someone who previously made them feel good would be a great idea. But what is happening here is that they just like the idea of who they would be if they were with you. For example if they were able to reconnect with an old crush who was free spirited, then they would suddenly be adventurous, spontaneous and fun. The truth is we are who we are. If we want to be more than that – it has to come from inside us. We need to do the work.

Major Life Events

When tragedy strikes its human nature to take stock of our lives. If the event is big enough and devastating enough, we will also experience a great deal of pain. Strong emotions that come from a difficult loss are not fun. They take time to process and work through. When we experience this, our first instinct is to want to make the pain go away or make it easier to deal with. Sometimes we believe reaching out to someone in the past that made us feel happy or good about ourselves seems like the solution. But realistically this is just a way we distract ourselves from dealing with what we are experiencing instead of taking the necessary time to heal.

At the end of the day….

People do come back for much simpler reasons like life getting busy and somehow loosing touch over the years.  And if this is the case then you probably don’t need to look much farther into it than that. But in most of the instances I have experienced or witnessed it seems like the individual reaching out has something much bigger going on. And with social media these days it can be fairly easy to do a little additional research on the situation before diving in. Understanding what’s happening and why will allow you to make well informed decisions about the people you choose to welcome into your life.

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”
― Wayne W. Dyer