Imagine that you are walking through a forest dense with trees. In front of you is a path to where you want to go and behind you are all of the trees and obstacles that you’ve walked past to get to where you are. While you are walking, you are constantly turning around to look at what is behind you. While you’re walking forward and looking back, you’re continually tripping over the obstacles in front of you. You’re constantly losing your path and having to wander aimlessly to find it again. This little visualization is exactly how looking back on our past can affect you moving forward in life. Leaving your past behind you, where it belongs, is a process. Here are 5 things you can do to turn yourself away from where you’ve been and focus on where you are going:
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The most important step in walking forward from your past is simply to acknowledge it. Yes, things happened. Yes, some mistakes could have been avoided. No, it is not the end of the world. Too often people surround themselves with the regret of their past indiscretions and mistakes, to the point where they cannot move forward. There is nothing as liberating as just owning up to your past for what it is – your past.
Respect Your Progress
The best way to really accept your past is to look at what you’ve done since. Pick a moment in your past that you regret and identify everything you’ve done from that point forward. These aren’t just random occurrences, this is progress. How can you see how far you’ve moved from your old ways if you don’t identify where you are now?
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Don’t Let Your Past Become Your Future
Your past is only a chapter of your book, not the whole story. If you continuously re-read that chapter how can you ever make progress? Again, the focus here is moving forward. There are times when it may be appropriate to remember something from your past, but to to relive it.
Use Your Mistakes to Empower Others
Nothing is more effective at diminishing the impact of mistakes from your past as using them to keep others from making the same mistakes. Experience is one of the most powerful things that human beings can share with each other. By preventing someone else from making the same mistakes you’ve made, you can put an end to the cycle of regret that we all too often experience.
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Above all else, you have to respect your past enough to learn from it. We all have our scars, both physical and emotional, that tell our stories. Our scars are not who we are, they are a sign of our survival.