CONGRATULATIONS! If you are reading this article you have successfully survived your past! Never again will we have to revisit anything that has caused us unhappiness or pain unless we CHOOSE to! From this moment forward, ALL of us get to CHOOSE what we focus on. How empowering is that! Most of our “adult unhappiness” comes from incidents and events that took place somewhere in our past. Our “good memories” are not the problem, it’s our “bad memories” that cause the majority of our frustration and pain. Many of us have been carrying around this baggage for so long that it has become a significant part of our identity. For example, we may identify ourselves as an incest survivor, product of a broken home, child of an alcoholic parent, victim of poverty or any number of other self assigned labels we continue to identify with. It’s time to ask ourselves whether these worn out labels are true in the present moment? What would our life look like if we stopped identifying with our tired old stories and began telling ourselves new and empowering ones? Here are 4 key things we can take away from our past.
Perspective. “The past should serve as a reference point, not a permanent resting place”. Whatever events took place in the past whether we deemed them “good” or “bad” are now behind us. The good news is we can tap into this base of reference points to help us shape our perspective and make better decisions in our present and future reality. Emotionally healthy people prefer to dwell on present pleasure than past pain.
Acceptance. Acceptance of ourselves and others is an important first step toward emotional freedom. Everyone did the best they could with what insight they had at the time. Many of us have spent far too much time blaming others for our unhappiness and pain. As emotionally intelligent adults, we are in charge of our thoughts and therefore can change the meaning of an experience by changing our thoughts about it. When negative thoughts arise we must CONSCIOUSLY seek a different meaning to attach to them.
Strength. Both our past success’s and perceived failures serve as positive reference points. When we have succeeded at something we can simply repeat the process and anticipate a similar outcome. When we have failed at something we are presented with an opportunity to take stock and formulate a new approach. When we face and overcome adversity, we can’t help but become stronger in the process. Most of us never beat ourselves up when we win but we can be relentless in our self abuse when we believe that we have failed. Remember, strength is born from success and failure!
Trust. The past has presented all of us with a plethora of valuable experiences and life lessons. Some of them were awesome, others not so much! Successful people have learned to trust their intuition. They have established specific reference points that guide their internal compass and validate their belief system. On the other hand, frustrated people have not learned to trust themselves and tend to change their minds quickly and often. They rely heavily on a system of consensus. Present moment trust along with intuition is a bi product of our past experiences.
Our future success truly depends on our relationship with the PAST.