When you think of your life up until this point does it make you happy or do you focus on the negative aspects of your past and use it as an excuse to stop moving forward?
How we view the past often depends on how we perceive our present life. If you are living with challenging circumstances, it is hard not to let your current situation influence your thoughts about the past, present and future.
When I was going through my divorce I was looking for proof of how I had gotten to that point. In the thick of my divorce process, every memory of shared moments with my ex took on a negative hue. I would mine my memories for proof that I was never meant to marry that person. Then I would beat myself up for having been so stupid. Clearly, every memory indicated that we were not supposed to be together – how could it have taken me 20 years to realise this? So I decided to try not to think about it at all.
As I had shared 20 years of my life with this person, I wiped out a good chunk of happy memories. In addition, I reasoned that childhood had led me to my partner of 20 years and so I wrote my childhood memories off as well. My life path had led me to one big point of failure – divorce. Failure kept going through my brain. All I had left was one failed marriage, no career and unhappy kids.
People and self-help books advised me to remember the good moments I had shared with my ex, to hopefully prevent me from what I was doing which was allowing my past to overshadow my present and future. Because that is what I was doing; I was projecting my past into my future and that was stopping me in my tracks. What was the point of having a future that looked like my very unhappy past?
My coach helped me find a way out of these circular and self-defeating thoughts and she did this by helping me change my thoughts about the present.
My coach first told me that it wasn’t my life that had failed. It was simply my relationship with one person. Then she helped me define what success means to me and helped me find proof that I had succeeded according to my own terms of success.
After that, my past started to take on a different hue. I was now focussing on how I had succeeded in life according to my own definition of success. Once I started to see how I had in fact succeeded, my coach pointed out that my past had gotten me to where I was. All those things I perceived as mistakes were actually lessons designed specifically for me to get me closer to what I wanted out of life.
This was by no means a quick fix. It took time and practice.
But the recipe is clear. Look for success in your present life and the positive evidence you find will carry back to your past memories and forward into your hopeful future.