According to recent research, more and more people are feeling depressed. While the reasons for this vary from person to person, the people who have not yet learned how to stop living in the past have some of the most trouble…
It could be loved ones lost, heartaches, or past mistakes…
Whatever happened back then, it hurts in the background and keeps you from reaching full capacity in the present.
YOU FEEL STUCK IN THE OLD PAIN.
I know, because I felt it for a long time — much longer than I should have — and I don’t want that for anyone else.
For that reason, I am sharing my story and how I managed to stop living in the past. If you or someone you care about is struggling, I hope this article can help in overcoming the past and reaching a successful future…
How to Stop Living in the Past… The Way I Did
When I was entering my freshman year of high school, I witnessed something no one should ever have to see…
I WATCHED AS MY BEST FRIEND GOLDIE’S HOUSE CAUGHT FIRE AND STARTED BURNING WHILE SHE AND HER MOTHER WERE STILL INSIDE.
All through the night, I helped my father and other volunteers try and douse the flames, but we were too late.
In the end, the house burned down and Goldie and her mom didn’t survive.
The trauma of seeing their bodies being salvaged haunted me for years and led me down a dark road…
That horrific scene was never far from my thoughts. Yet I tried to avoid thinking about it at all costs.
Because I couldn’t confront it, I dealt with life in a couple of ways that ultimately only got in the way of my happiness.
First, I decided that I would feel nothing ever again…
To keep from feeling, I started abusing drugs and alcohol to try and accomplish three things:
- Harm myself.
- Cope with the loss.
- Pretend that everything was fine.
It worked for a while, but no one can live that way forever…
Finally, Enough Was Enough
After years of losing more friends and making bad decisions, I left my hometown of New Orleans to escape the environment my pain grew from.
BUT THE PROBLEM IS THAT WHEREVER YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE…
I realized that if I was ever going to be happy, I had to free myself of preconceived notions that no longer served me. On top of that, I would have to take steps to make sure I would never go back to that hopeless place.
That’s the short version of the huge amount of personal development I undertook.
Only once I did that, my amazing husband was able to come into my life. After this, I was also able to have our beautiful daughters and a successful career simultaneously.
It was hard work, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
This is the outline of the steps I took to leave my past where it belonged — behind me…
The Path Out of Your Past
When you are living in the past, it sometimes feels like your mistakes were too big or it’s too late to make things right…
I assure you that is NOT the case.
The fact that you are here and committed is a huge step in and of itself. It shows hope, determination, and willingness to change. Therefore, you’re already on your way out.
WHILE I CANNOT PROMISE YOU THIS PROCESS WILL BE QUICK OR PAINLESS, I KNOW THAT IT DOES WORK.
Now, let’s start moving forward — together.
1. Allow Yourself to React
If you were raised with a “check your emotions at the door” mentality like I was, this first step will be a little more difficult…
Let yourself feel whatever emotions about the past situation you need to.
IT’S OKAY TO BE MAD OR CRY ABOUT IT. IT’S WORSE TO SUPPRESS YOUR EMOTIONS.
Not confronting these things makes them fester and grow. So allow yourself to feel it to get it out of your system.
I’m not saying that this step will be confined to a few moments. You may need some time and help to get through it. Nevertheless, don’t spend more time here than you need.
Feel it so you can move into this next step…
2. Use 20/20 Hindsight
It is almost impossible to think logically when going through the emotions of a tough period. That is why the first step was so important.
Now. I want you to look at your past with a new perspective…
I WANT YOU TO TAKE A HARD LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED AND SEE WHAT RESPONSIBILITY YOU CAN TAKE FOR THE SITUATION.
Of course, some events traumatize us that we could not prevent. My friend’s house fire, for example.
However, we could determine a better way to react or cope from our current viewpoint.
To illustrate this from my past, I could have talked to my family about my feelings about Goldie’s passing instead of bottling it up and turning to substances. I could have controlled how I reacted.
See what I mean?
Then, you are going to put non-negotiable policies in place that will prevent you from being in those circumstances — or being stuck in the aftermath — ever again.
Enforcing those policies ensure you don’t end up living in the past again. Afterward, you can progress to the third act on your path…
3. Disconnect from the Past
Believe it or not, this may be the hardest step of all…
YOU MUST LET WHATEVER HAPPENED TO YOU GO.
Holding on to hate, pain, and sadness is a surefire way to make sure you never stop living in the past. I know this is easier said than done, but there are effective ways to make this change…
For instance, you may want to consider leaving an environment that breeds toxicity for you…
You can also write a letter to whoever has wronged you, then just never send it…
Alternatively, you can have a heart-to-heart with them and try to handle the situation that caused you harm…
All in all, there is hope, and you have options to move on. You just have to avail yourself of them so they don’t continue to stick to you.
Once you do that, you can be fully in the present and start walking into the future…
4. Reverse Engineer from the Future
Finally, we get to the enjoyable part of the process of leaving the past behind — envisioning and creating the future.
To be specific, I want you to answer these questions:
- Who am I at my core?
- What is my purpose?
- How does the life of my dreams look?
If you are having trouble coming up with answers to these questions, I have a whole article about finding your purpose here.
Regardless of how you come to the solution, make sure the answers are crystal clear and resonate with you. Otherwise, you will not do whatever it takes to reach your destination.
Then, determine what are the precise actions and targets you need to hit to achieve that future.
Write a battle plan in as much detail as possible — and start on it NOW.
Still, there is one last piece of unfinished business before you truly stop living in the past…
5. Prosper with Purpose
Ultimately, the goal of escaping the shadows of the past is to be happy and successful. As such, that is your final step in this journey.
At this stage, you will have your purpose and roadmap in hand to get to where you want to go. Those tools will keep your eyes ahead, and taking action will keep your feet moving.
With that in mind, allow yourself to feel fulfillment in progressing towards your goal. Simultaneously, appreciate where you’ve been and how far you have come.
That’s what it means to prosper with purpose — and how to completely stop living in the past.
Personally, I have had to go through this process several times in my life until I got it right. There is no shame in that. You can read all about it in my book, “Build an Empire: How to Have it All.”
So keep going, no matter how many times you have to begin again.
YOU CANNOT FAIL IF YOU DON’T QUIT.
I can’t wait to see what your future holds.
Build an empire,
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