We all have a past, don’t we? I currently have two clients who are actively dealing with the past through our work together. Both are in their 40s, married with children, and have stable jobs. They are good people, trying to do the right thing. One of them is applying for US citizenship but has 2 DUI convictions (with some complications) from over 15 years ago. The other is in danger of being put in removal (deportation) proceedings because of a drug conviction in 1992, when she was only 19 years old.

As I work with them to move forward with their lives, we need to deal with these past issues. I am touched that they both are having trouble remembering their old lives…their past. They are new people now with new values, thoughts, and ideals. Why do we have to go back there to that undesirable place?

My parents tell me constantly to “forget the past” and to “move forward.” However, I respectfully disagree with this idea. We must deal with our past in order to move forward. In order to grow and evolve into better versions of ourselves, we need to learn how to live better. We can only learn through experience. If we don’t learn from the past, we cannot progress toward that better self.

Of course, dwelling or living in the past is not what I am referring to. Simply, we must resolve, the best we can, our past in order to learn how to live in the present. Unresolved emotions cannot be just “forgotten.” Science shows that we hold these unresolved emotions in our bodies – at the cellular level! This shows itself in repeating the same destructive patterns with others as well as to ourselves.

The gut-brain connection is a manifestation of this. “Digestive issues” are getting more and more common and modern medicine cannot find a cause. Your gut is signaling you about your unresolved past, folks. As a yoga instructor I can physically see, with my own eyes, the unresolved baggage people are carrying in their bodies.

So what do we do about this? Well, deal with the past of course! We must accept our previous versions of ourselves as an important part of who we are now. We had to go through that stage to learn what we needed to learn.

For my immigration clients, dealing with past criminal convictions can be a transformative experience. By going backwards, we can really and truly go forward. For the client applying for citizenship – he can finally be whole by not worrying about how his past will affect his future. For the client facing deportation, she can fight in court and win her privilege to stay here once and for all.

We all want to be whole, to be our best selves. We want to forget our past selves. However, before we can really forget (which will happen), we must honor those memories and choices and then release them. Holistic Legal Services uses this approach in our immigration representation. Contact us when you are ready for your transformation.

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