Yesterday is gone. No matter what you do January 1st, 2001 will not come back. It doesn’t exist and neither does tomorrow. To lament over actions you took or didn’t take will not change what actually happened in the past. Yet, so many people live with regrets that create emotional paralysis. They live with the philosophy of ‘if I could have, should have, wish I had, etc.’. To my knowledge, no one has been given thekeys to unlock the door to the past so they can get a “do over”.
However, there is a way to deal with the past, such that today is not shaped by it. To start, when we focus on the past, it can create blind spots for what is happening in the present. For example, if you start a business and it fails, it may be difficult to start another. The reminder of the failed business could haunt you. As a result, you could develop a belief that you are not cut out to be an entrepreneur. You may have a conversation with yourself that says, “I tried and it didn’t work out. I’m not cut out for being a business owner because… The same can be said about math class, being a musician, or being a leader.
If we peel back the layers, we will find that perhaps the person with a failed business failed before he started. How? If you grow up in an environment where you hear the following conversations, you may have predetermined failure. In some environments, you hear: “you have to have a lot of money to start a business.” “If your parents were not entrepreneurs, you’re going to fail”. “Only smart people start companies.” “You were not good in school. How can you run a business?” And the list goes on.
While those conversations are from your past, they serve as constant reminders of who you are or where you come from. It is an example of how the past can create blind spots for the present. Your actions are always shaped by conversations you have with yourself, even if you are engaged in positive affirmations with friends. What you secretly say to yourself has more power.
With that said, you can’t go back and change what you heard either. While the past has shaped you, it does not have to make you. So there is no reason to go back and change the past. However, there is a way to transform the way you see “you” as a past. How you see yourself in the past also shapes how you see yourself today.
From so called past experiences, you developed an identity. That identity determines the religion you practice, language you speak, job you choose, neighborhood you live in, etc. And your past is made up a series of events where you made choices. At the same time, those choices were made because of your perspective at that moment. For example, I know a guy who chose to be funny because of an event that occurred when he was 13. Being funny was a great icebreaker for him. It made people comfortable with him from the beginning. Except, when he got involved in high-level business deals, he did not know when to stop telling jokes. As a result, people did not take him seriously and he lost out on deals.
As a 13 year old, he believed he had to be funny to fit in. Because it worked at 13, he believed it was a good strategy for everything. While he was well over 50 now, he still had the mindset of his 13 year old self. His entire identity was shaped by the decision to be funny in order to fit in. Now he’s stuck with it.
While he cannot go back and change what happened at 13, he can learn to see that fitting in was the goal of a 13 year old. As an adult, that is not the intention. His intention as an adult was to be a successful businessman. That requires a very different mindset. And that does not mean he needs to change the choice he made at 13. It means he can alter his perspective of what happened at 13. In fact, he was able to see that he didn’t have to fit into that group at 13. The group had already accepted him. More importantly, none of those people are part of his life today. Nevertheless, it seemed they were still running his life 40 years later because as an adult he was still attempting to fit in.
To sum it all up, conversations you have heard in your environment are conversations of others, not yours. And the choices you made as a child were the result of what you believed at that age. When you can confront those two thought patterns, you can dismantle them and ultimately free yourself. In a way, it allows you to rewrite your past, while you remain in the present.
What do you think? I would love to hear your feedback. And I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, connect through my blog www.turnaroundip.blogspot.com.