Past experiences, and the emotions that accompany them, all serve a purpose. We learn by doing, observing, and by making mistakes. We file those lessons away for future reference and we draw upon them to help us navigate the present. There's nothing wrong with this process unless, that is, it becomes the most used (if not only) navigation tool we possess. We, and the world around us, are in constant change. Even the tiniest deviation from the circumstances in which we found ourselves previously will have an influence on the outcome today.
For an example, when you were a child you were taught that fire burns. It's dangerous. You were told not to touch it because it will hurt you. That lesson is still with you as an adult but now you know how to use fire to your advantage. You had to adjust the lesson of your past in order to use fire safely to light a candle, to cook, to warm yourself by.
But what if you only held on to the first lesson learned and didn't deviate from it over the years? How different would your life be?
When we don't update the lessons of our past, we hinder the progress of our present. We create a wall of fear and self-doubt. The past becomes a proverbial prison, holding us back from moving forward and living and enjoying our lives as we are meant to.
The same holds true for how we define ourselves. What happened in the past is not our permanent definition. It's not a gauge for what is possible in the present. Who we were then does not determine who we are now.
Do you hold yourself in constant accountability for the mistakes you made as a young child and allow them to decide who you are today? Of course not, because we understand that those mistakes were made because we didn't know any better, we were learning, and we had some growing up to do. Despite what we may think, this is true no matter what our age. We are constantly learning and growing along the way, even if we don't realize it. Because of this, it's nearly impossible to be who you used to be. There are just too many variables.
When self is constantly confined and defined by the past there is no forward movement, no progress. Past lessons no longer serve the purpose they are intended to but, instead, hold us captive. This is why it is so important to examine what we're holding on to, to be sure that it's not holding us back from the life we are deserving of.
Letting go of what's holding you back takes self-examination, patience and forgiveness.
Ask yourself if what you're holding on to is:
- relevant in your life today
- outdated thoughts/beliefs
- positive and supportive
- keeping you from being yourself
- keeping you from moving foward
- detrimental to how you feel about yourself
- causing you anxiety, fear, shame, or guilt
- causing feelings of inadequacy
- making you feel undeserving of love, success, happiness, or joy
If you find that your answers are mostly negative, it's time for some updating and clearing out.
It's okay to let go of those lessons that are no longer pertinent to the life you desire and deserve. Just because they served their purpose then, doesn't mean that they still do. No matter what the past holds, you are who you decide to be today. The life you desire for yourself is achieved one thought, one belief, one small change at a time.