Friday, October 24, 2014

Releasing the Past

Posted: 24 Oct 2014 03:00 AM PDT
Do you condemn yourself for things which you did--or failed to do--in the past?  Everyone does this at some point.  However, if you want to lead a successful and productive life, it is imperative that you release the past and not blame yourself for events which have already transpired and which cannot be changed.
Ask yourself this question:  has "beating yourself up" about the past ever helped you or made you feel better?  If the answer is "no," I hope that you will make a commitment to stop this self-defeating behavior.

The successful person takes this approach:  learn from past mistakes and make adjustments in future behavior.  The strategy of berating yourself for past conduct solves nothing and only serves to lower your self-esteem.  You create a vicious cycle where negative experiences and negative feelings are reinforced, which leads to more negative outcomes and more negative feelings.

You are not going to change one bit of your past.  It's gone.  Learn from your past experiences and move on.  You did the best you could given your awareness and understanding of your options at the time.  This does not imply that your conduct was praiseworthy; however, you will gain nothing from self- condemnation, except feelings of misery and inadequacy.

If you have done something in the past which you can do something about, then by all means take action.  If you have been unkind to someone, offer a sincere apology.  If you failed to fulfill a promise which you make, take steps immediately to fulfill that promise.
If you insist on dwelling in the past, I suggest that you focus on your past successes.  Visualizing and thinking about past successes is an excellent way to build confidence and self-esteem.  What you think about is what you become.  Therefore, when you concentrate on your successes, you help to create future successes.
When you find yourself starting to dwell on past negative experiences, immediately halt and remind yourself:  "There is nothing I can do now which will change what happened.  I learned a valuable lesson and will act in a more constructive manner next time."  You see, regardless of what you have done--or failed to do--the only sane approach is to accept it and move forward.  The successful individual does not waste precious mental energy dwelling on past events which cannot be changed.  Instead, he or she uses past mistakes as learning experiences and springboards to future successes.
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