Is Your Past Holding You Back?
How to Move Forward to Find Success
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
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
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.
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about Guerline Jasmin.
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