“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

Buddha

Starting from a young age, we are pretty good at forming ideas in our heads about who we are, what we can and can’t do, what we are capable of achieving.

Some ideas are planted by others; perhaps family, friends, strangers, the media. Many we grow ourselves. As we get older, we often live our lives according to these beliefs, misconceptions, and false ideas.

I stress too easily. I’m clumsy. I can’t change my habits. I’m lazy. I can’t concentrate well. I can’t run. I’m no good at sport. I can’t lose weight. I can’t do maths. I’m unreliable. I’m selfish. I can’t talk to groups.

Often without realising it, we repeat these messages over and over, almost like mantras. Every time we do something that agrees with those thoughts, they are re-enforced. In our eyes, we are defined by them.

Take a deep breath, and realise that you are not your past.

You are not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, a week ago, even a second ago. You are you now, in this present moment, with no judgement or mistaken beliefs.

You may have struggled with changing habits in the past, it doesn’t mean you can’t change now. You may have made some poor decisions that negatively impacted your health, but you don’t have to carry on that way.

People often look to their past mistakes and failures, and believe history will only repeat itself.

Instead, see failures for what they are – learning experiences. They are absolutely necessary for you to develop.  Learn from them, grow from them, and let go of them.

Stressing over past events and hanging onto the false beliefs of who you are does nothing to serve you. They are gone, you have gained some value from them and they are no longer needed.

Remember that the past does not define you. You always have a choice, now. And now.

Focus now on the present, and feel the benefit of no longer having to carry around the burdens of your past.

What misconceptions do you have about yourself that you can let go of? What past mistakes can you learn from, to be the person you want to be today?


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14 Responses

  1. I always with my clients on this concept. We are not the mistakes we have made, the things that have happened to us, etc. unless we choose to have them define us. We must do the work to make them just a part of our story.

  2. Love this idea of changing the mantra you repeat to yourself. It’s a challenge for me to overcome past mistakes, especially the painful memories that pop into my head at random times. I usually say the wrong thing at the wrong time and have convinced myself I am socially awkward. Anyway, great post!

    1. That’s something I’ve often struggled with, the social awkwardness. I know exactly where you’re coming from.

      The more you carry out that certain behaviour, the more socially awkward you feel, the more it reinforces that behaviour… It can seem like a vicious circle sometimes!

      But yeah, if you take a step back and realise the past events and past moments don’t define you, it makes it easier to break out of that circle.

      Thanks for your kind comment!

  3. My past doesn’t define me, and yet, it does add wisdom to my present, which in turn is connected with my future. I’m a compilation of every thing, outside of nothing. All I’ve done, am and will be, tell a story about another little Buddhist on his way to self awareness. * bows*

  4. I enjoyed your post. A part of dealing with the past is dealing with the uncertainty that results from your past. The hardest part is to embrace what was and as stated above not allow it to define you.

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