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I don’t know where I learned the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad life experiences. As early as a 13 I remember doing something that I considered to be bad and vowing to forget. Throughout my teenage years I did various things that I wanted to forget and it continued throughout university. As I downed bottles of wine, smoked cigarettes and hooked up with different people, there was always a voice telling me that what I was doing was wrong. It took away from my experiences and made me feel bad about living them.

After my last relationship ended I spent months questioning what had gone wrong and how I could have changed. I convinced myself that it was my fault that things went bad and this made it hard to move on. I convinced myself that in order to move on I needed to forget. This made it impossible to move on and I felt stuck in the past.

My therapist is a big advocate of mindfulness, living in the present. I have embraced this concept and try and focus my time and energy in the here and now. Despite that I knew that all of my past experiences (good and bad) are also a part of my life. Trying to forget the past was another way of trying to edit out the ‘bad bits’ in order to create a perfect life journey. Life just isn’t like that.

My experiences have made me who I am and they are impossible to forget. All of the things that I class as bad are related to freedom and exploration. I’m tired of punishing myself for living.  No one should feel like they can’t live fully because they fear regretting their decisions.

Your Experiences make you

We are all obsessed with living the perfect life. Mistakes are often glossed over in an attempt to forget them. Society makes us feel like only certain experiences are good ones. Everything that happens in your life is part of your story. They influence how you see the world and how you make decisions. I always thought that my sexuality was something to be ashamed of, something  to hide and forget. I was wrong. The relationships I had with women weren’t mistakes, they allowed me to explore who I am. What experiences are you trying to forget?

Accepting your past allows healing and growth

One of the reasons I enjoy practicing mindfulness is the focus on the present. That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel old thoughts and feelings. Sometimes they are so intense that I feel like I am having the experiences all over again. Instead of forgetting them I allow myself to feel the emotions or the thoughts. I know that they can’t affect my present, they are just apart of my journey. Don’t get my wrong, it is so difficult to accept things that may have hurt you or made you sad, but you can’t forget them.

You can make informed decisions

One of the greatest things about experiences is that you can learn from them. I have done things that I wouldn’t want to repeat or know that I shouldn’t repeat. This is particularly relevant when it comes to dating and relationships. I have decided that I don’t want casual hook ups and will only pursue something more serious. This is important to me because I know what kind of relationship I want and how I want to feel. What has your past taught you?

There is so much pressure to make the right decisions and learn from your mistakes. Sometimes neither is possible. The important thing to remember is that all experiences are a part of life. You don’t have to forget.