Is Your Past Affecting Your Future?
Our past is filled with valuable life-lessons. We rely on our past experiences on a daily basis to work out what to do next and how to act in the present moment. These past experiences act to keep us safe, but is your past affecting your future?
What if your past was preventing you from living your best life now? Would you be able to recognise if this was the case?
In this podcast episode, Gillian looks deeper into the question, 'Is Your Past Affecting Your Future?'
Hello and welcome to the Clarity Junction podcast.
As we start a new year and begin planning what we would like to achieve throughout the course of the year, we are sure to encounter some inner resistance at one point or another.
This resistance shows itself as self-doubt and fear, and before you know it, you have downsized your goals and scrapped your big dreams.
Where is this resistance coming from?
Well, it could be that your past experiences have a lot to do with it.
So, keep listening to find out if living in the past is affecting your future.
My name is Gillian Duncan, Positive Life and Wellbeing Coach, inspiring women to lead the life they want, and I am delighted that you are here with me today.
Our past experiences are extremely important for our future.
Everything that we have learned in the past all contributes to who we are today.
Learning from past experiences helps to keep us safe and prevents us from repeating mistakes that we have made.
Once we learned that touching something hot can be painful, we avoided doing it again.
Over the years we have learned that if we do x, then y will happen.
So, we know that if we study hard, we will get better grades, and if we don’t study, we won’t achieve as much.
These learning experiences are beneficial to us. They are teaching us life’s great lessons. These lessons are always better remembered than those that are taught to us. We have learned these lessons through our own actions, not just through someone else’s advice.
These lessons become part of the building blocks of who we are as a person.
Our past experiences, both bad and good, are most beneficial to us.
However, as with everything, focusing too much on one thing is never good for you.
Life is not just about one thing. It’s about lots of things and focusing on one area of your life more than others, can leave you with an imbalance of energy.
Focusing on, and reliving the past too much, can become more of a hindrance to your life, and it can soon become less beneficial to us.
When we talk about someone living in the past we can easily conjure up two distinct images in our minds.
One of someone reliving the ‘good old days’ and telling stories of how great things were in the days of their youth.
The other image we can have is of someone constantly talking about an unpleasant past experience that they had.
When you think of the person telling happy stories, you can imagine them looking happy and full of energy.
When you think of the person retelling their unpleasant experience, you can imagine them looking miserable and their energy seems to be taken up with emotions like hate, frustration, fear or anger.
If I asked you, which person was allowing their past to affect their balance of energy, and as a result, holding them back in life, I am sure you would identify the person recalling a bad experience.
I would agree with you, but I would also add that both situations are examples of someone who may be letting the past dictate their future. This is my reasoning.
When someone is constantly holding on to a bad past experience, refusing to let it remain in the past, and keeps bringing its negative energy into their present day, then they are allowing their energy to be consumed by negative emotions rather than moving the energy onwards to more positive future experiences.
The negative past experience is being practiced and practiced over and over again in their head, and it begins to prevent them from moving forwards. They can’t seem to detach from a bad past experience and will bring the negative lesson into what ever situation they face in the future.
This can result in avoidance of trying anything new, self-sabotage when it comes to achieving their dreams, and constantly remaining in their comfort zone.
On the other hand, when someone is constantly recalling the ‘good old days’, they too, are keeping their energy locked into past events.
These past events may seem golden and magical to the person, and they will retell their stories with passion, but this is still an example of misplaced energy.
This energy taken up by constantly recalling the past, is energy that could be used to define an even brighter future.
They may have had wonderful experiences in the past, but why stop there? Why give up on the present day, and work towards bringing that wonderful energy into creating a glowing future.
There is an imbalance, and it’s caused by focusing too much on the happy events of the past. Sure, it’s great to remember these brilliant times, but not when it is constant and comes at the cost of giving up on your future.
Again, when this past experience is re-lived over and over again, it’s almost like they have stopped living. They have drawn a line in life, and start to act like life is over, when that’s far from the truth!
They put up barriers, stop learning new things, deny themselves the right to present day happiness and future experiences. They become more and more attached to the past, and just like those who recall negative past experiences, they allow fear, self-sabotage and an ever-growing comfort zone, to demolish their future.
Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand the reasons why people can become attached to their past – whether it is positive or negative. I understand that there is usually a very real underlying cause. And for some, it can be caused by a truly traumatic past. If this is the case for you, then it’s time to reach out, if you haven’t already done so, and seek the help and advice of those who can help you to take steps forwards again.
However, for the most of us, we often use our past experiences as a reason to limit our future experiences.
For example, perhaps you were turned down for a job in the past. This led you to be more apprehensive in the next job interview, and it led to a series of rejections as you struggled to overcome self-doubt. Now you fear going for a promotion, as you fear you will be rejected – all based on one experience that snowballed into your future.
Another example could be going for a regular health check-up. You went for years with no issues, but on one occasion the doctor that examined you wasn’t so gentle and didn’t seem as interested in what you had to say, and you ended up leaving feeling a bit vulnerable and fragile. From that one experience, you haven’t been back for another health check, even though you know it is in your best interest.
When you relive the ‘Happy Days’, you may be at risk of comparing old with new. This is fine when you are comparing the size of today’s chocolate bars to those you had as a child, however it’s future-limiting when you are comparing relationships, for example.
If you are always fondly looking back at an old relationship that ended, how will you move forwards and develop another wonderful relationship in the future? How will you manage to keep a relationship long enough in the future, if you are constantly reminding your new partner of the ‘love of your life’?
If you are constantly comparing the past to the future, people around you will start to feel that they will never live up to your standards, and eventually they will give up even trying to.
You don’t want to alienate yourself, so it may be time to cut back on the comparisons or turn it around – find something in your life today that you can complement and give praise to!
I know when my life gets a bit tough and I long to go back to my early years, I just need to remember that Lycra® hadn’t been used so much in our clothes and I had to wear really saggy, uncomfortable woollen tights every day, and all of a sudden I am back in the here and now!
So, now we understand a little more of how living in our past can prevent us from building a more fulfilled future, it’s time to take a look to see whether your past experiences are blocking the way for your future to happen.
Take a moment to think about something that you would love to achieve and take some paper and write it down.
Once you have done this, start writing down the reasons why you cannot achieve this goal.
You will probably come up with around 3 to 5 reasons, and this is completely normal.
There may be practical reasons in this list, and practical reasons just need time for you to work out how you will overcome that particular barrier.
The other reasons will be fear based.
They will involve self-doubt and other lessons learned from you past experiences.
Once you can identify this, you can then go on to work through these reasons labelling them as being in the past, and no longer relevant to the present situation.
Let’s go back to the example of wanting a promotion, but past experiences of not passing an interview have made you believe that you will be turned down.
Let’s take this moment to realise that the past experience had its own scenario. It was a different company. A different interviewer. A different time in your life. You had less experience and knowledge of the job as you do now.
There may have been other factors that influenced their decision not to hire you. Perhaps they already had someone in mind, but had to go through the interview process. Perhaps they felt they could pay someone else less than what you would have accepted.
Then also look at other scenarios. Perhaps the company that turned you down weren’t a great company to work for and you would have been miserable there. Maybe you didn’t get the job because there was a better job just about to be advertised.
There are hundreds of new scenarios that you can attach to your past experiences that can really turn them into a completely different experience than the one you keep remembering and using as a deterrent for bettering your future.
So with this in mind, and with the awareness that we all use our past experiences to mould our future, it’s time to look a little more closely at your current aspirations for the future and ask yourself, ‘Is living in the past affecting my future’
That’s all for this episode.
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Bye for now and keep being awesome!