How to Become the Best You – Tip #1: Quit Living in the Past
By Motivational Speaker Connie Podesta
There’s an old saying that I love by D.W. Williams, “Past experience should be a guide post, not a hitching post.” Boy – isn’t that the truth? Still living in the past? QUIT IT! We can’t change what was – not how we grew up, not past relationships, not lost friends or family members, not old hurts or old haunts or whether or not we came in first in whatever it was we were trying so hard to do once upon a time.
I do understand that some of you have a legitimate right to be angry. To be hurt. To be mistrustful. No doubt. I know that there may have been things said to you and done to you that were unfair, unpleasant, unreal, and even seemingly unforgiveable. And you probably replay these things over and over in your head, in your dreams, and even in your behaviors and attitudes. But here’s the good news. Right now, at this minute there is only one person in charge of your life — YOU! YOU are now calling the shots. Making your own choices. Responsible for your results. And accountable for how you let the past impact who you are at this moment and in the future. Do you understand how unbelievably powerful that is? Or limiting and defeating–depending on how you CHOOSE to let the past define you? I can’t tell you how many people I have counseled or coached who tell me how badly someone or something else has messed up their life. And I then tell them “But now YOU are in charge. YOU have the power to change the cycle. Don’t let what someone else said or did for a few years or even a few minutes change how YOU live your life for the next minute, day, year or even the next 30, 40 or 50 years.”
Sometimes people will say to me, “But Connie, I didn’t choose to lose a parent, be mistreated, be abandoned, be unloved, lose my job, get divorced, or to have whatever circumstances have happened.” And I understand that, I do. But my answer is that while we may not always get to choose what happens to us – we CAN always choose how we react to that and, how even more importantly, how we choose to allow it to affect our future and define who we are and will become.
And are you going to let past people or experience ruin even one more day of your life?
Just say NO. No way! Quit giving up your right to be happy, healthy, financially secure, or whatever else YOU want for yourself in this life. Do it NOW. Make the choice to quit giving other people or negative experiences from the past the power to control how you handle today and tomorrow and the next day. Powerless means giving away your control. Powerful means taking charge of your life and being accountable for your own choices.
Let GO of the bad stuff. Here’s the deal. I don’t want to ask you to forget. Remembering your experiences, both bad and good, is part of who you are. And those memories can either defeat you or make you stronger and more determined than ever to change your individual life patterns. But I can tell you this — you MUST FORGIVE, because holding on to old hurts, pains, sorrows, and grudges only robs you of present joy, happiness, love and lessons much more than it ever affect whoever you’re still angry with or hurt by.
I can tell you to LET GO – because hanging on so tightly to the past is like an anchor that can and will keep you cemented in what was rather than celebrating what is and can be. Forgiveness is NOT about releasing the other person—it is about releasing YOURSELF. And I can tell you that there’s real power in waking up each day eager to live in the present and excited about the future versus reliving the past over and over and letting it become your present reality.
And the GOOD stuff? But some of you may be saying, “But wait – I had a great past! It was awesome. I think about it all the time!” Great, right? Well, yes and no. Sometimes we also have to let go of the good to a degree. That sounds counterproductive right? It’s not really. For some people, living in the past isn’t about to holding on to old hurts – it’s about missing the ‘good old days’ when perhaps money was better, houses were bigger, you were the football captain or the homecoming queen. Maybe you’re remembering how great it was before the divorce. Before the kids left home. Before you got laid off. Before you got a new boss. Before, before, before. Glory days can be a wonderful memory and when times are tough, it’s much easier and more comfortable sometimes to live “there’ than to live “here”. Unfortunately – ‘there’ doesn’t help you ‘here’ – and HERE is where you need all your energy, creativity, talent and brain power to make TODAY a better day and the PRESENT filled with opportunity.
So what’s the lesson? Memories can either make you or break you. They can drag you down, destroy your confidence, wear out your spirit and keep you living in “what was” and not “what is”. Or…they can be the foundation for unbelievable learning, new experiences, and a purposeful, happy life built on what you are capable of achieving at this very moment in time.
Don’t live in the past–Learn from it. And re-create the past to fit who YOU really are and want to be at this moment. You know, everything that has happened to you up to this point can be a tremendous teacher and even a healer when we choose to look at it with an open mind and open heart and see things for what they were (not just what we wanted them to be or what we resent the most).
Let’s face it—for most of us our past did not meet the expectations we had for the “perfect” life. But most of our experiences – the good AND the bad—offer up wise counsel for who we really are and have taught us invaluable lessons that have helped us become who we are now and the ultimate power of who we can be. We can CHOOSE to be a different kind of parent. Spouse. Boss. Friend. Person. When we keep looking back we miss so much of what’s going on in the moment. We miss the opportunities right in front of us. We miss time and experiences with the people in our lives that are so brief and fleeting that we’ll never get them back. And don’t forget. While you are living in the past you are choosing to rob the people in your life right now of your full potential. Your best self. And that’s not fair to them. You are a part of what they will remember when they look back.
Start Today. Forgive. Let go. Re-create. Learn from experience. Take back your power. Be in CHARGE of you, your life, your choices, your creativity, your attitude and your future. Live today – fully, freely and passionately. You’ll never quite look at life the same again once you do. Ready?
Two Take-Aways to Share With YOUR Social Circle Today!
- Your past is NOT who you ARE. It’s just the experiences you have had. You can CHOOSE what defines YOU! Know this: You Are What You Believe (So believe all GREAT stuff!)
- FORGIVENESS: It’s not about releasing the other person–it’s about releasing yourself.
Stay with us on this journey right here at www.conniepodesta.com/blog! I’d love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment or two and please share with your friends! (We’re all in this together right?) Be sure to follow me on Facebook & Twitter too – we share fun stuff and think BIG there every day! I’d love to have you join in the conversation!
Other articles in this series include: