Encouragementology

Using Your Past to Propel Your Future

December 3, 2019

What do you think of when you review your past? A life full of rich experiences and cherished memories? Better days and bygones? Missed opportunities and regret? Or a  time you’re trying to forget? What if we could collect the memories from our past, organize their relevance, evaluate their purpose, discover the lesson, and learn from them. What if we could use our past to propel our future?

No one is perfect and no one can look back reflecting that everything in their life worked out just the way they wanted it. There are always ups and downs with highs and lows. But how low did it get and were you able or ARE you able to bounce back? That’s the key right? Keep going. No matter how hard it gets, keep going. Many of us would rather bury the tough times pretending they never happened and vowing to never speak of them again and others can’t seem to let it go and move on. Instead, staying stuck reliving the same tragedy or destructive behavior over and over and over. You don’t have to be a psychologist to recognize the danger in both of those tactics. 

You can see why “getting over it” is ideal but how hard it may be to get there without doing some significant work. This path to self-discovery is not always one of moving forward but may actually have a few detours and overnights as we unpack portions of our past. After a short stay and the necessary dissection of lingering issues, it’s time to move on. 

I’m good at letting things go and moving on. The primary reason is I don’t like to be sad or in a bad mood. I hate conflict and would much rather sweep it under the rug in lieu of harmony but I know, that can only be temporary. Those feelings and those scars are still there, just below the surface and it’s a shallow depth so it doesn’t take much to reach them. I could run across a trigger that would take me right back there or even more disturbing, a painful memory with no warning for no reason. I kept thinking I had the power to make it go away by pushing it down deeper but the more I pushed the more it weighed me down. 

Because of this, I decided to face the past. I went back and looked at events in my life with both eyes open so that I could honestly claim my role and look for the lesson. It wasn’t quick and it took a commitment. It doesn’t make it go away, there is still regret there but it does help me walkway from those feelings with a positive impact and direction vs staying stuck. 

As you start your journey back in time to understand how your past can uncover key ingredients for a successful future it’s important to:

Be kind

Remember you are always learning. Painful or regretful memories might be linked to vulnerable and naive periods of your life. You made choices with the information you had available at that time. 

Claim your role

Taking responsibility is an empowering step to forgiveness. Only when you claim your role in your past can you uncover the lesson. If you spend precious time blaming everyone else the lesson will get buried with your responsibility. Claim it, own it, then let it go. 

Forgive yourself

As much as you would like a do-over you are stuck with the past being just that, past tense and unchangeable. In order to find the lesson, you must forgive yourself. Too much time is spent ruminating over choices that can’t be undone. Channel that energy into understanding the lesson that is pointing you to a brighter future. 

Move on

Once you’ve done a deep dive it’s important to get what you need and move on. Replaying and rehashing painful times is not going to make it any clearer or easier. Shine a light in the dark corners of your memories and with an objective lens glean what you need to uncover the lesson and then move on to a healthier place. Your future, where possibilities are endless. 

Do you have enough fuel to propel you into the future? Obviously, that doesn’t happen in the span of a show but I am hoping you have enough inspiration to go back and do that work. You owe it to yourself to free yourself from whatever is keeping you stuck in the past or the present. 

Visualizing what you want your future to look like is not only super fun but incredibly important. Every year, Matt and I make a list of our goals for the next year but first, we make a list of everything we’ve accomplished in the current calendar year. What a rush. If you feel like the year passed you by without notice, take a look at what all you did do and I bet you’ll be surprised. 

Next, think about the year to come. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? What do you want to accomplish? Skies the limit but if this is all new to you, take it slow. Create some goals that you need to stretch to reach but that are realistically attainable in a calendar year. No reason to set yourself up for failure out of the gate.  We keep our lists in a journal-style book so we can easily revisit it when you need a shot in the arm or something to celebrate.

Now, go beyond next year and really visualize what you want your life to look like. Who are you? What are you doing? How does it make you feel? What is important to you? 

CHALLENGE:  Be willing to examine the rough spots of your past to smooth out the future. Every day we are growing and learning from other people and from our own experiences. Use those experiences, positive and negative, to uncover keys to propel your future. 

I Know YOU Can Do It!