Nostalgia – a tool for personal development
I want to discuss nostalgia. Nostalgia is not simply missing a person or a situation; to me nostalgia comes down to missing a feeling, an emotion, how you felt at a certain period in your life.
Have you ever experienced that disorientating feeling, when a smell or a song reminds you of someone, or something, or a stage in your life where things were going a certain way? This is the kind of nostalgic feeling that makes you automatically compare the current stage your life is in with previous ones. For a short moment you are transported to the past, and regardless of whether the feelings were good or bad, you relive those emotions in a fraction of time. Who said we don’t have time machines? They are in our heads!
We’re three days into the new year and nostalgia seems to be all around as our minds struggle to get back to the routine after the Christmas break. There is something about the beginning of a new year that inevitably makes you think about and assess the year just gone. I can definitely say 2015 was the most difficult year in my life so far, due to several abrupt changes in my personal life and to my routine (perhaps ultimately leading me to start this blog). It has left me with several life stages, of which I will reminisce through nostalgia.
The interesting thing about nostalgia is that it not only good or only bad. In some cultures, nostalgia is considered a positive emotion, whereas in others – a negative one. In addition to the generic (good vs. bad) meaning that culture might attach to nostalgia, each one of us experiences it in a different way, marked by our personal lens, through which we view the world.
So nostalgia is clearly an extremely complex and powerful emotion, but one that we need to deal with, if it is to positively impact our personal development. Nostagia can show us so much about ourselves, if we don’t numb it either because it’s too bitter-sweet, or too difficult to deal with. It can reveal what we value in life, and what we don’t. It can show us who the most important people are in our lives. It marks all truly life-changing events, and all turning points, when a new life stage begins. The key is to think about all the things that nostalgia brings to the surface and to use it as a tool for self-discovery and self-development. Asking yourself why you felt a certain way, what has changed since then and how you’ve changed as a person as a result of all the things that have happened to you, can highlight your achivements in personal growth, but also the outstanding areas of improvement. Therefore, nostalgia is one of the most powerful tools you have in your journey to personal development and it shouldn’t be feared. It should be embraced.