You’ve Got To Put The Past Behind You Before You Can Move On


“My Mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.” Forrest Gump says this memorable line in the movie, referencing his run across America.  Remember the run that took 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours? Forrest is sitting on the bench telling his story of the run when he concludes, “I think that was what all that running was about”. Forrest’s run was a way for him to put his past behind him. He instinctively understood that carrying the past was detrimental to his present and future.


Forrest Gump isn’t the first to introduce this concept of putting the past behind.  Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days is a lament about living in one’s past – “sit around thinking about” … “trying to recapture” … “boring stories of glory days”. Or how about in The Lion King when Timon says “You’ve got to put your behind in the past” and Pumbaa corrects, “No, no, no. Amateur. Sit down before you hurt yourself. It’s “You got to put your past behind you.”  Google the phrase “past behind you quotes” and you’ll get millions of hits.


So millions have written about putting the past behind and yet it’s still heard and learned by most as if it’s never been uttered before.  We seem to constantly need to be reminded of this. Why do we tend to hold on to our past? Why do we constantly seek the glory days of the past instead of the present? Are you stuck in the past? Is your past affecting your ability to live passionately in the present? If yes, then let Forrest’s simple wisdom free you from your ghosts. 


While Forrest’s run was therapy to exercise some of his past pains, many people use exercise to relieve stress. And what is stress? Simply put, stress is worrying about the past and how it’s going to affect the future. The running or exercise is a method to just live in the present. When your heart rate is accelerating from a vigorous workout, it’s hard to focus on the past or future.  You’re forced to be in the present. Consider that we use techniques that force us to be in the present because somehow we always want to shift back into the past. Does this make sense?


Last year I attended the Landmark Forum.  It’s a three and a half day seminar designed specifically to get people to give up what they are holding from their past. The premise being that most of us hang onto our past, project our past into our future and then ultimately live today, or the present, with our past burdening and weighing us down. Once one recognizes and accepts this cycle, it’s as simple as just giving it up.


So whether we attend a 3+ day seminar in which past demons are identified, poked and probed or if we just follow Forrest’s mother’s simple advice, “put the past behind you before you can move on”, reliving glory days or previous pains are not the way to live powerfully and passionately in the present. Acknowledge your past, accept your past, and what will happen is you’ll naturally start to let it go. Your present will be lighter and more passionate.


To learn more on this subject continue to explore the website or consider having Steve Weber speak at your next company or association meeting. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that!



Next Blog Title:  “I’m not a smart man, but I know what Love is.”

Next Blog Date:  Monday, March 22, 2010


  1. says

    After writing this blog post, I stumbled upon this one that addresses the same sort of topic in much the same way. Kudos to Michael Kwan for recognizing “that some of the greatest wisdom can come from the simplest of minds.”

  2. Maria says

    Once you can love your younger/earlier self with true compassion the pain, pride, emptiness(or whatever the relevant emotion is for each of us) dissolves like a mist before the sun. If you see the mist again, look back with love and watch the sun work it’s miracle.


  1. […] How did he do it? Simple. He found his gumption or self-initiative. Later in the movie Forrest says, “Mama always said, “Put the past behind you before you can move on.” And I think that’s what my running was all about.” Forrest started to run to break out of his gumption trap. And the run turned out to be a way to put the past behind. […]