Every day offers brand new possibilities and gives us a clean slate upon which we can make a fresh start, but just because these possibilities present themselves, it doesn’t mean that we are all capable of taking advantage of them. Every single one of us can acknowledge that we are products of our past experiences, that have shaped and molded us until we have become the person we are today. Our past, therefore plays a very important role in how we interact with our future.
Our past experiences, especially the more difficult ones, can often restrict us from progression, they anchor us to the way things used to be, or to a certain past event.
How can we gain independence from our past selves? How can we approach each day, willing and able to make positive changes in our lives and become a better version of ourselves? The truth is, that moving beyond the past can often be a difficult experience, depending on how strongly it holds us down. But moving forward, for continued progress, is perhaps one of the most important goals to have. We should always strive to be a better person for ourselves and for others.
As you are reading this, past tragic events might be floating up through your memory. Perhaps it was a difficult breakup, a death of a loved one, a mental illness, or any other difficult period in your life – these can all start to shape who you are now in a negative way even if you can’t recognize it yet. For example, if you have gone through a difficult breakup, maybe their opinions of you still hold you down and prevent you from seeing your full potential or your full beauty.
Or maybe, if you have lost a loved one, this now prevents you from getting closer to others because you are afraid to go through that grief again. Your subconscious actually tries to outsmart your true self, because your subconscious learns from these past experiences and tries to protect you from going through that trauma again in the future.
This Independence Day, it might be time to open the doors to the possibilities presented to us each and every day. It’s time to examine the anchors of the past which are holding us down, process them, and let loose. While the going may not always be smooth, and the processes might become emotional, taking small steps towards freeing yourself from your past is perhaps the most important thing you can do to create positive change.
Analyze your Anchors
The very first step towards realizing the possibilities of today is to recognize the anchors of the past. This can be painful, but is the most essential step. Allow yourself time to really think about what is holding you back. Does fear hold you back? Where does that fear come from? Do you dwell on the mistakes you made years ago? Why do they trigger continued anxiety? Do you reminisce about a lost relationship? What do you miss? What do you regret?
Set aside a specific time each day during the first step to think about these negative past experiences. If your mind begins to drift throughout the day, reign it back and remind yourself that you will have time later to think about it. This takes practice, but over time you will find less and less of your day is devoted to the anchors of the past. As you begin to understand each situation better, perhaps start to think about what you need in order to place it firmly in the past, to end the cycle of dependency.
Physically Distance Yourself From it
Some issues are traumatic, and limit us from becoming our best selves. For some of these issues, it’s important to create a physical distance from it in order to develop a mental distance as well. While it might sound silly, it’s a technique applied in therapy all the time. Taking your emotions, and imagining placing them in a different room, or putting them in a box inside your mind. In this case, we can take it a step further and physically place them in a real life box, which can only be opened when you are ready and able. Do you have any physical reminders of the past? Notes, photos, objects that remind you of pain, stress or suffering? Put them in the box, and put the box away. As you have distanced from the past experiences, you will have the space you need to move beyond them.
Change Your Mindset
There are three ways we can deal with a difficult situation, but only one will lead to positive results. One way is to withdraw and ignore the problem, if you don’t look at it, it should go away right? This obviously doesn’t work. The second method is to confront it with frustration, negativity and anger, after all you are angry that you cannot move past it. This method also tends to lead only to negative results. Finally, once you are able to approach the situation from a positive mindset, an open heart will lead you down a path of healing. Honesty is a major component of this part. Perhaps you aren’t ready to approach the future with an open heart just yet, and that is ok too. Sometimes you need to have patience with yourself, and focus on changing your mindset first and foremost before you can begin to make changes.
Re-tell Your Story
As you start to break free from the past, you’ll start to notice that there are so many more doors open to you, and that you are ultimately in control of who you are, where you go, and who you can become. It’s not your past that defines you, you are the one that tells your own story each and every day.