I’ve been thinking a fair bit lately about the power of letting go of the past because of the influence it can have over your present.
That influence can be a good or a bad thing.
A not so good thing if you are holding onto resentments, fears and old stories that are preventing you from being all that you can be today. Stopping you from stepping into your true potential.
We have a tendency to always be looking forward, racing towards our next goal, our next task our next responsibility. The fast-paced life that we lead rarely allows us the time to stop, pause and reflect on what’s going on for us and what we have actually managed to achieve.
Think about that for a moment. I bet you have a great big To-Do list on your desk, on your phone or in your head, I’m pretty sure that you don’t have an entry on that list that says “take 5 minutes to pause and reflect on what you achieved last week. Savor that. Give yourself credit”.
Am I right?
Imagine the powerful progressive impact such a simple practice would have upon your sense of confidence and self-belief?
Take this a step further. Imagine pausing to reflect on just how far you have come in the past 12 months. The past 5 years. The past 10 years.
When you take active note of how far you have travelled down the path of your life you are exercising the Reverse Gap Principle. The sense of satisfaction, the gentle reminder that you are a work in progress not a work of perfection will have a powerful impact on you. I’m not knocking your commitment to forward motion, to focusing on your goals, to personal growth. On the contrary, I am suggesting that you can fuel your journey with the memories of where you have come from.
Why not try that today?
And now let’s flick to the other point that I have raised. What happens if you find yourself getting stuck in the past, ruminating over past events, feeling trapped or held back today by people, places and things.
It can be challenging to let go, there is no doubt about that. Letting go is not a one-off event. I have first-hand experience of being stuck in my own story, my own personal groundhog day and although I know there is no quick fix, I’ve realized that we don’t have to be defined by our past and our old stories.
It’s not what happens to us or why it has happened to us that holds us back, but what we tell ourselves about what happened.
If you can change your stories, you can change your life.
I moved into recovery from addiction in 2006 by changing my story. I stopped repeatedly telling myself that I was weak and pathetic and trapped. That with the things that had happened to me in the past, no wonder I needed to numb myself in the present. I finally decided to stand on my story rather than remain immersed in it. I began a new story, one that said I was a sick person who needed to get well rather than a bad person who needed to become good. That other people had recovered and that I could too.
You can reframe the story
That simple reframe was the catalyst for the journey into a whole new life.
Of course, it took more than the simple reframe. I had to become willing to take action. To be vulnerable and ask for help. But that first step, the step away from my past story and into the possibility of a new future was where it began.
What story from the past are you allowing to hold you back today?
Can you look at it with a new pair of glasses? Can you entertain, just for a moment, that there may be another way of telling that story. One that empowers you so you can take action to begin to write a new chapter?
Can you open your mind to how things could be, rather than how you believe they should be or should have been?
Can you begin by identifying just one small action you can take that will move you a step away from the old story or belief that no longer serves you and closer to the new reality you would like to have?
Can you take a deep breath and be vulnerable with someone you trust, to share your fear, your old story and how you would like to change and to ask for their support and encouragement?
You might be surprised how that acts as a catalyst for their old stories and hopes for the future to emerge as well.
It doesn’t need to be something as deep and difficult as addiction (though if it is, I send my love, empathy and absolute faith that you can and will move through it). It can be that you are tired of doubting yourself as an entrepreneur and want to step into your success and take aligned action to achieve this. It may be your desire to stand in your confidence as an intuitive parent and let go of judgement. Perhaps it is a desire for a more open and supportive relationship with your partner.
It’s different for everyone.
But the first steps are the same for us all.
Awareness of the desire for change.
A decision to begin a brand new story.
Willingness to ask for the help and take the action to start moving out of the stories of your past and into your fresh, bright and beautiful future.
Start today and before you know your reverse gap will delight you…