Anyone that has been born has a past. As we get older, this past fills up with people, places, and experiences that shape who we are. The thing that really shapes us is the way we look at our past. The events in our lives happen, and it is up to us to interpret them, therefore, we can change our past, and here’s how….
Step 1. Stop defining yourself by your past.
As we grow, we learn. The important thing to remember is that your past does not define who you are. You are not your failed marriage, you are not the child you were, you are not your business that went under, you are you. When we come to understand that we are not the mistakes and lapses of the past, then we open up ourselves to the understanding that we can, at any moment, change for the better. We have the power to define ourselves, right now, in this moment.
When we over identify with dust and particles from the past, we run the risk of repeating mistakes and begin defining ourselves with disempowering messages. We also deny ourselves the chance to correct unhealthy patterns because we believe that they are fused with us. Do not give away your personal power to events and situations that will never happen again.
Step 2. Learn from your mistakes.
After we understand that our past is not who we are, then we can learn from what history has to offer. Being able to look at the past in an objective manor allows us to see things from many different angles and take multiple lessons from it. We can ask ourselves what we could have done differently, why we felt a particular thing, and so on. This information will help make us ready for the future challenges ahead, and it will allow us to come to terms with our past.
When we see that the past is one of the best guides for the future, then we begin to appreciate where we have been. Mistakes and failures help us get closer to our personal values and help us know who we are. When I first started to look at my mistakes this way, it was hard and a little painful, but the way we improve our past is to change the way we see it.
Step 3. Make a better now.
The best way to improve the past is to make the best out of this moment. Every current moment will become the past. Living life as our best selves every day will create days, weeks, and months of a great past.
When we make a better now, we let go of shame and guilt. Shame causes us to hide who we are, and avoid situations. Shame implies that who we are has to match with somebody else’s standards or else. Who are we living for anyway? Guilt is about our actions and whether they meet up to a moral or value code. The question you may want to ask yourself is “whose moral code”? Nobody has to live with your past but you.
When I used these steps, I was able to come to terms with the past, get a better sense of who I am and what drives me, and all that allowed me to make each moment the past I want to look back on. Remember, you can look at your past to learn from it, but do not become it.