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Keep Your Past from Invading Your Present and Destroying Your Future
Guest articles > Keep Your Past from Invading Your Present and Destroying Your Future
by: Guerline Jasmin
We all have negative baggage from our past—abuse from family members, name-calling from school friends, and destructive self-talk, just to name a few. And while these negative events occurred in our childhood, many adults allow their past baggage to dictate their present and guide their future. For example, perhaps when you were in elementary school a group of classroom bullies constantly called you “a dummy.” Their words hurt you and got ingrained in your mind. Now that you’re an adult and rarely, if ever, think back to your elementary school days, you still believe you’re too dumb to handle many situations. As a result, you don’t try as hard as you could at work, and your results suffer. No matter what your past burdens are, you need to be able to walk away from them instead of letting them control your present. To help you do so, consider these strategies.
1. Do a life assessment
The majority of people don’t realize that something from their past is holding them back. Instead, they make excuses for why their life or situation is the way it is. They are so used to being in a negative or non-optimal state that they don’t realize they are living out a pattern that started in their youth. Therefore, the first step is to do an assessment of your life. Look back at the some of the messages you received and revisit major events that happened to you. Write down key phrases or words that you remember, and that you still say today. Describe any events that seem memorable or life changing. Chances are you’ll see some sort of a pattern emerge. Then you can start putting meaning to those phrases and events. By doing this, you’ll be better able to see why you do certain things today.
2. Decide to be a conqueror
There are two kinds of people in the world: Victims and conquerors. Victims blame external factors for the results of their life right now. For example, a victim would say, “I can’t get a promotion at work because I’m a woman.” Everything is always someone else’s fault. Victims often have low self-esteem and low self-confidence, and they are often afraid to take action or take risks.
Conquerors, on the other hand, learn from their past and take responsibility to change their life. For example, a conqueror would say, “I didn’t get the promotion at work because I don’t have the advanced training I need, so I’m going to enroll in the college program and get additional training.” Conquerors know that the key to changing their life is within themselves. As a result, they do what they need to do to make a difference in their life. These people know they are worthy of great things, and they are willing to work to achieve those things.
Your goal is to create the best life possible with what you have. Yes, you will face challenges, but if you press on, you will make it. Therefore, do whatever you can to take yourself out of the victim mindset and be a conqueror.
3. Don’t be a complainer
When you complain, you indicate that there is an alternative—something better. For example, you might complain about being overweight. The alternative is losing the excessive weight. So now that you know the alternative, you can stop complaining and do the necessary steps to lose the weight.
Take an inventory of your complaints. The next time you start complaining, stop yourself. Go to paper and write down everything you wanted to say. Now you can see the pattern in your complaints and pinpoint the alternatives that are available. If you are sincere with yourself, you will find that you complain about things you can do something about.
Many people complain instead of taking action because taking action involves taking risks that may be uncomfortable, difficult, or confusing. The fact is that we tend to remain in our comfort zone, even if our comfort zone is dysfunctional. In order to get out of a negative comfort zone, we need to be willing to change something and take a risk. For example, you may need to let go of the negative people in your life, which could mean you’d be alone until you make new friends. You may feel scared by this proposition, but that’s what change is all about.
It boils down to choice. Accept that you are making the choice to be a complainer, take responsibility for that choice, and then stop being a complainer. A better alternative is to take the risks to create the life you want.
4. Learn new habits
Everything we do in life is based on some sort of routine or habit. Therefore, you have to get rid of the old and destructive routines and replace them with new and positive ones. For example, you may hope for a promotion at work, but you are always late, you procrastinate, and you don’t take criticism very well. Those are learned habits. To be considered for the promotion, you have to replace the bad habits with new habits. You could get up an hour earlier to get to work on time, buy a planner or a calendar and use it daily, write down your tasks with a deadline to keep yourself from procrastinating, and write in a journal when you feel like saying something inappropriate.
Studies show that you need to do something consistently for at least 21-30 days to make it a habit. Doing something for this long puts you on track to keep doing it for the long term. By taking your negative habits and turning them into positive behaviors, you can control your situation and make it better than before.
5. Choose to help others
When you help others, you to take the focus off of yourself. By focusing on yourself and your own situation so much, you can quickly forget that there’s a whole world of people out there who have experienced the same things you have…or even worse. However, when you start looking outside of yourself and realize that people who are worse off than you have overcome and survived, you begin to see the possibilities for your own life. Additionally, by sharing your story with others, you can motivate people to make a change in their life. So search out support groups that pertain to your situation, offer to be a mentor to others, or simply start sharing your experiences with others in an attempt to help them. By doing so, you’ll quickly realize all the good you have to offer.
Your Bright Future Awaits
Changing your life can be overwhelming, but you can do it. You can overcome your past and create a bright future. No matter what happened to you in the past—whether it was abuse from a loved one or schoolyard bullying—remember that the past is the past and has no correlation to your present or future. You are in control of your destiny and can take the appropriate action steps to create the best future possible. So be a conqueror, stop complaining, learn some new habits, and help others along the way. Keep enduring and don’t give up. You will reach the life you want.
Guerline Jasmin is president of Success Strategies Unlimited, a consultancy in Orlando, Fla., helping individuals and organizations achieve their highest potential. A passionate leader who helps others overcome adversity, Jasmin has a master’s degree in human resource development and is pursuing a Ph.D. in education and leadership. She is also author of the forthcoming book, “How to Keep Your Past from Invading Your Present and Destroying Your Future.”
Contributor: Guerline Jasmin
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