Wonderful advice posted on KSL on May 28, 2012.
SALT LAKE CITY — Life is a complicated and messy endeavor. In LIFEadvice, Life Coach Kim Giles will help you with simple, principle-based solutions to the challenges you face. Coach Kim will empower you to get along with others and become the best you.
Can you give me some advice on how to put the past behind me and move forward? I’m haunted by the mistakes I’ve made and how they have hurt my family. Is it possible to let them go and feel good again?
Imagine your life as a road trip. On this road trip there are high points and low points. Some of the experiences are fun, some are scary and others are miserable. Each of these experiences is a location on your journey through life.
These experiences do not define who you are. They are just places you’ve been. Just because you spent time traveling through Texas doesn’t make you a Texan. Texas was a location on your journey; it is not who you are.
The thing you must understand about your past is that each experience — each location you visited — has brought you to where you are today. Each experience taught you things.
Some experiences taught you about who you don’t want to be now. Some showed you options in human behavior and the consequences of those options. Each experience served a divine purpose in your life.
You must embrace what each location taught you, and understand that you are not there anymore. You are a different person now. The person you are today wouldn’t make the choices you made then (though that is partly because of what you learned from making those choices the first time).
You cannot change the past, nor should you want to. Your journey taught you perfect lessons. But you can refuse to let your past define you now. You left Texas and you aren’t going back.
Now, in this place, you get to choose who you want to be today. Here are a couple suggestions for putting the past behind you:
Accept that there is nothing you can do to change the past. You did the best you could with what you knew at the time. That was all you could do. Give yourself permission to be a work in progress.
Let go of shame, the belief that you should have already mastered everything. You are here on earth to learn and grow, so you can’t expect to have known everything all along. The important thing is the direction you’re headed now. Shame is a waste of your energy. Instead, focus on who you want to be today.
Live in this moment, all the time. There will never be a moment when it is not this moment. Understand that you cannot fully experience joy today while you’re holding onto angst about the past. Choose joy today. You can do this. You have power over your inner state.
Focus your energy on what’s in your control. Look at your current situation and write down what’s in your control and what’s not. Focus your time and energy only on what is.
Do something to metaphorically let the past go. Write down the experiences you are having trouble letting go of. Then burn it, bury it, tie it to a balloon and let it go, or rip it up and throw it in the trash. As you do this, say out loud, “I’m done wasting energy on the past. I choose to let it go, once and for all.”
Choose to trust life and the Universe. Trust that your journey is the perfect one for you and that everything happens for a reason. Trust that you are on track and right where you are supposed to be now.
Don’t worry. Eckhart Tolle said, “Worry pretends to be necessary but it serves no useful purpose.” Worry, guilt and stress do you no good. They will not prevent bad things from happening and they may, in fact, attract more bad things your way. Choose to trust that good things will happen to you.
Set aside a time to experience regret and guilt. Decide that for 15 minutes today you will set aside time to wallow in self-pity and shame. Dive in and immerse yourself in it. Then when the time is up, you’re done.
Examine your past and embrace the lessons. It may serve you to examine your past, but you must do this in trust that your value is not on the line. You must know that your past experience were lessons, not tests that you failed. You must use the lessons you learn to help you be the person you want to be today.
Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
This is the key to a successful and happy life. Examine the past, understand it and learn from it. Then, leave it in the past and move forward. Put the lessons to work by making better choices today.
Choose to see the past as a location on your road trip; do not let it define who you are. If you see experiences accurately, you will be grateful for the lessons and empowered to be a better you.
Ask Coach Kim
Do you have a question for Coach Kim, or maybe a topic you’d like her to address? Email her at kim@lifea dviceradio.com .
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes Clarity: seeing yourself, others and situations accurately.