When Your Past is Holding You Back

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Picture this. There’s something missing. You want more. You wonder what life would be like if you had this, or could do that. But you know you can’t, because you never have. That just isn’t you. You’ve messed up in the past, took a wrong turn or missed an opportunity. Either way, it’s just not meant to be.

Sound familiar? If it was too easy to picture, perhaps it’s your reality – or at least it has been at some point in your life. If you are not heading towards what you want in your life because you think you’re not good enough, you won’t be able to, or you’ll mess up… please stop.

Your past is holding you back.

It’s right now that will take you forward.

The decisions you make today around what you want to achieve and who you want to be, are yours to own. Here is how you can start the mindset shift:


– make a list of your past mistakes and failures. Add to each one either what you learned from it, or how it helped you grow


– write down everything you believe about yourself (start “I am…”). If any beliefs are unkind, think about where they came from and challenge them


– then write down who you want to be (“I want to be…”). Imagine it, taking in all the senses as if it were your reality


– consider the steps you would need to take to create that reality. Make a plan to take one step that will get you that one bit closer


– accept that sometimes other people will judge, or have an opinion. Often criticisms come from a place of insecurity; this says little about who you are


– find someone to bounce off. If you want to let go of the past, stay motivated with a friend, coach or confidant who’s got your back 


– be patient with yourself. Think of something you have learned or achieved: it takes time. Take small steps towards growth and don’t give up


– remember that your past is not you and you are not your past


– in light of the above, take one of your “I want to be…” statements (or combine them) to create an “I am…” for the future. This is your affirmation. Say it out loud, repeat it and convince yourself of it until it is reality

Our experiences shape us. They define who we are and what we believe we are capable of. We often resist stepping outside of our comfort zone for the fear of not being able to do so. Then there are moments when we are forced outside of it (global pandemic, anyone?) and we realise that we are capable of more than we had ever imagined. Sometimes, we don’t even stop to reflect and give ourselves the credit, but we are capable of more. 


If you want to be shaped by experiences that make you feel good about yourself, push beyond your barriers to achieve your hopes, goals and aspirations. Tomorrow is your future today, but by next week it will be your past. How do you want to look back on it?

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