Your Past Does Not Define You or Your Future
Have you ever felt bogged down by your past mistakes? Do you sometimes have regrets about things that you have done or neglected to do? Have you had bad things happen to you that were unjustified and unfair? If so, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. I would also like to assure you that your past does not have to weigh you down and determine your future.
It is true that your current life is, to a large extent, the result of your past actions, choices and experiences. The great news, however, is that your future is determined by how you act in the present moment. In other words, your past does not have to define you or your future.
All of us have made our share of mistakes, and I certainly am proof of that. Most of us have also experienced bad situations that were not necessarily our fault. Some of us have experienced circumstances so bad that they could be considered traumatic.
I know that I have made many mistakes and bad choices in my own life in the past. I have hurt people who did not deserve to get hurt, wasted precious time, told lies, neglected my health, taken my parents for granted, and been selfish and self-centered. I also have been the victim of bullying in high school, as well as other injustices that were not my fault. As a result, I have had regrets, experienced guilt, and felt anger towards those who wronged me in the past.
These feelings of regret, guilt, resentment, and anger used to weigh me down and affect my outlook on life. I felt like I was living in the past even though I knew that I could not change what transpired. I wanted to progress and move forward, but I was futilely trying to get ahead while constantly looking into the rear view mirror. And then something changed…
I had an epiphany. I realized that my past only had a grip on the present because I allowed it. I decided to accept the fact that I could not change the past and also embrace the notion that I had complete autonomy to make wise choices in the present moment. Another thing I did was to forgive myself for my past mistakes and also forgive those who had caused me hurt. It was a liberating moment for me.
No matter what has happened in your past, you can choose how much power over your current life you want to afford it. You cannot change the past, but you can choose how you react to it.
Here are some things to think about that might set you free and allow you to live the life that you deserve to live:
You Are Wiser Now
Despite the severity or magnitude of your past mistakes, you can choose to look at them differently. Instead of viewing them with constant regret, try to see them as valuable lessons that you can use today. If you have neglected your health, become overweight, gotten divorced, lied, hurt others, wasted time or a large sum of money, etc, you can come to the realization that you are wiser now for your experiences. You are not the person that you once used to be and, therefore, do not have to make the same mistakes that you once made.
Make the conscious choice to forgive yourself for your past mistakes and constantly remind yourself that you have evolved, matured, and learned from your errors. Accept the fact that you cannot change your past, but you certainly can choose to react differently to it. Remember that your old baggage is only bogging you down and preventing you from moving forward in your life.
Contrary to what some people believe, you do not have to continuously punish yourself for past wrongdoings in order to be sorry. If you want to make amends, do so and move on. Become the best person you can be because that empowers you to give back to others and the world at large.
- You cannot change your past but you can change how you react to it.
- You are much wiser now.
- You are not the same person you used to be so you do not have to make the same mistakes you once made.
- You do not have to keep punishing yourself in order to be sorry.
You Do Not Have to Be a Victim Any Longer
Just because you were taken advantage of, bullied, hurt, or treated unfairly by others (sometimes those closest to you), it does not mean that you need to keep on suffering. You can choose to stop reliving the past in your head over and over again. In fact, it is often your mind constantly replaying a past negative event that causes you substantially more suffering than the actual event itself.
You do not have to play the role of victim any more. You are a resilient survivor. It is within your power to choose how you view bad things that have happened to you in the past. It is your right and also the key to freedom.
- Constantly replaying a negative event in your head greatly increases your suffering.
- You do not have to be a victim any longer.
- You survived difficult circumstances and you are resilient.
You Can Forgive Yourself and Others
Having forgiven those who have afflicted hurt on me in the past, I can attest to the fact that forgiveness is liberating. As Ann Landers once said, “Hanging on to resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head”. You do not choose to forgive others because you want to condone or justify what they did. You choose to forgive others because it sets you free.
You can also make the conscious choice to forgive yourself for your own mistakes. Nobody is perfect and there are probably thousands of others in this world who have made similar mistakes in their lives. You do not deserve to serve a self-imposed life-sentence to atone for the wrong you have done or the bad choices you made. Practice self-compassion in the same way that everyone else would like to be treated.
- You can forgive others without condoning what they did.
- When you forgive others you stand to gain the biggest benefit.
- You can forgive yourself for your own mistakes and still feel remorse.
- When you forgive others and yourself you set yourself free.
What if you chose to look at your past differently? How does that relate to your current life? Here are just a few empowering possibilities:
- You can succeed in business even if you have failed before
- You can get in shape even if you have been overweight for the longest time
- You can enjoy a happy relationship even if you made mistakes in a previous one
- You can experience abundance even if you grew up poor
- You can be a good parent even if your own parents were less than ideal
- You can be happy even if you have experienced tremendous sadness
- You can obtain your dream job even if you were fired from your last two jobs
- You can get your degree even if you neglected education in the past
- You can learn to trust again even though others have betrayed you
- You can make wise choices even if you have made unwise ones in the past
- You can be a resilient survivor of a bad situation rather than a recurring victim
Your past, no matter how bad it was, does not define your future. The choices and actions you make today will ultimately define who you will eventually become. Make the decision to learn from your past and apply it in the present so that you can live the life that you were meant to live. You deserve it!