You Must Let the Past Be the Past

Let the past be the past

Yes, you heard it right – you must let the past be the past. Why? Have you ever felt trapped? Have you ever felt the desire to succeed? You’ve worked really hard at it, you’ve sacrificed, you’ve given up your time, money, evenings and mornings – because you really wanted to succeed at something. Maybe you’re like me and want to be a successful blogger or software engineer. Maybe you want to be a famous actor, pilot, parent or scientist.

But something’s wrong. For all your hard work and dedication, despite your best efforts and plans, you’re failing; failing to achieve the success that you desire so badly. You look around you, sometimes daily and despite it all, you’re not getting the success that you so desperately desire.

No matter what you seem to do, how much effort and learning that you put in, you just don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Maybe you are, but if you are, it’s happening very, very, slowly. Why?

Well I’ll tell you why – You’re living in the past. I’m sure you’re familiar with the old saying: “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten”. Well that’s just what you’re doing in your life when you live in the past. You desire to achieve, you desire to change, but what you’re actually doing is just what you’ve always done.

A simple way to visualise this is as though you were washing a car. If you were then all you’d be doing is polishing the windows and leaving the rest of it as dirty as it was after you’d gone off-road.

Let’s think of it another way. You have a hammer, a rubber band a wooden board and a nail. With the hammer, you nail the rubber band to the board. Then you then grab the rubber band and attempt to drag it across the room. Do you see where this is going?

No? Well eventually, one of two things will happen. Either the rubber band’s going to break, through too much pressure (we commonly refer to this situation as stress – or distress) or you won’t be able to hold on to the rubber band any longer as it’s tearing against your hand and it snaps back to where it was (sometimes know as a mid-life crisis – though these are reportedly getting earlier and earlier).

Well it’s just the same when you’re living in the past but expecting to be moving on to new achievements. At some point in time, unless you change, as John Butler said, something’s got to give. You have to let go of your old outlook/mentality/attitude to life and let new thoughts and ideas in.

You can have happy memories of the past, you can have a sense of nostalgia for the past, but to live it in, you’re just going to fail – badly. Every time you make a new list of goals, every time you write down your dreams for the year to come, they will work for a time, but eventually, your old programming will kick back in and it will all fall in a heap – leaving you rather demoralised. Don’t let it happen!

Starting today, move on and accept that the past is the past and that it’s over. You may have done a lot of silly/pointless/meaningless things for a very large percentage of your life up till now. But from now on, it’s over. Those things, those attitudes, those habits, those patterns are gone and you will not continue to carry them with you anymore.

If friends occasionally remind you of these times, that’s ok. If there’s pictures or other evidence of those times, that’s ok. But put them away, in a box, in a vault, burn them if you so desire – but whatever you do – don’t focus on them.

Where you focus is where you will go. So stop focusing on them, stop giving them the role of being your guide. Put them away and reset your compass. In 2012 – you’re moving on. If you need a great guide to help get you there – now, then download the free worksheet from Get Busy Living. Benny’s the master at giving you a kick-start – you won’t be disappointed.

image copyright © Lee Ming Hui

Related Posts

  • wing

    I do agree with “You desire to achieve, you desire to change, but what you’re actually doing is just what you’ve always done.” Most of the time, a lot of us are just expending our energy on whining and complaining. It is just such a comfortable act to do that we will not take action to change and to go towards our goals. In a way, I think we are actually the most comfortable with our discomfort. Changes are always the most disturbing.

    However, I think the past still serve well as a guide towards success as I would reflect on what I have done badly and how I could actually improve on it. In the end, it is still about foregoing the past behaviours so as to create a new habit, that would be more beneficial to the goals.

    • Matthew

      Hi Wing, thanks for your feedback. I attended a seminar a few years ago by Michael Domeyko Rowland who said a very similar point to yourself. He said that though so often we want or desire a different regular reality, though we may even hate what we have now, given that it’s so similar to us and we’re so used to it – we know what to expect, so we don’t change. It’s really a case of living the attitude of “It’s better the devil you know than the one you don’t“. We may not like it, but at least we know what to expect.

      But your second point is well said also. We can use the past as a jumping off or reference point to help us know what we won’t o again, what we’re going to do differently, why we’ve decided to change. We can learn so much from people and from ourselves. We can learn what we want to achieve and to be and we can learn what we don’t want for ourselves and where we don’t want to go. It’s all in our perspective and what we do about it.