Leaving the past in the past is a hard thing to do, more often then not we have so many good memories of bygone years that we become incredibly nostalgic about those times. Because frankly we don’t know what lies ahead and that lack of certainty leads to a craving to recapture the glory years of picture perfect memories.
First off, we leave because there is a feeling that things are no longer going that well and we have a gnawing realization that things probably won’t get any better going forward. But we come into strict denial about this dawning truth. We don’t want to break off a relationship with something or someone while it is at a loss, so we hang on to it with a misguided hope that things will get better, hence loss aversion bias.
And beyond just the pain of needing to cut your losses, it’s the fact that you have already dedicated so much time, energy and resources that leaving it behind would mean throwing away the sweat equity. Many of us don’t want to and are unwilling to do that, which means some among us are willing to even continue committing to things that we have come to realize are wrong for us.
Even when we are willing to cut our losses and leave behind the resources we have expended that physical separation does not constitute a mental, spiritual and emotional separation from a previous investment which leads to us being unable to give up the ghost and continue pining for the past and unable to focus on our purpose.
The solution (a solution rather) is simple, having recognized lose aversion bias and sunk cost fallacy which we have discussed how to handle, we are left with the ghosts of our past that haunt us.
There is a gap, an emptiness when something or someone that had a significant place in your life gets left behind. The solution? Gaps must be filled, less the old creeps back in. So having given something up, fill that void with new people, projects and pursuits.
Your focus and attraction will be diverted elsewhere and then your will have truly given up the ghost. Like my old students in Thailand, since that time over a year ago, all these different people, places, projects and pursuits have come into my life that their presence in my mind was gradually less felt until eventually they have now become compartmentalized into a memory, an archive that can be reviewed upon but not controlling as it can be set aside while I work on other things.
Kingston S. Lim
April 7, 2021