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8 Easy Ways To Break Free From Your Past And Succeed In Life

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Do you sometimes find yourself stuck in the past? Do you find that you regularly have regrets about some of the decisions you’ve made? Don’t be too hard on yourself, we’ve all been there.

We all have a past, and that past could be the reason many of us can’t seem to breakthrough in life. We all go through those stages in our lives where we spent so much time dwelling on our past that we fail to see the new opportunities that are presenting themselves daily.  

There may have been many opportunities lost or mistakes made, but those will never return, so you need to let go and go after those opportunities that are constantly presenting themselves to you now. The future is the place you can repair all the damages you have done to your life.

Here are the eight steps on how to leave the past behind and look forward to the future with great expectation:

1. Call them all by name

Give all your mistakes, shame, disappointments and failures a name.  Write them down where you can see them.  Call them all out by name, and then rip up the paper or burn it afterward. See this as you releasing yourself from those bondages.  Refuse to remain imprisoned by your past.  

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

2. Respect your past mistakes

Your mistakes were part of your experience at the time.  Look back at them and respect yourself for making those mistakes when you did because you now have the time to make things right. You should not be happy you messed up but see it as part of the learning process.  Because of those mistakes, you are now a different person. Those mistakes that you look back at with such disdain are the very reason you are who you are today. Celebrate the fact that you have learned your lesson well.

 

3. Do not devalue your achievements

When you spend your time regretting the past, you are ignoring and diminishing all that you have achieved because the past mistakes are the ones that get all the credit. Focus on your achievements and not on the mistakes and in turn you will realize that your mistakes were not that serious. You focusing on them makes them bigger than they truly are.

 

4. Do not let your mistakes be your story

If you are constantly being reminded of the mistakes you made, you will make the things you did, your life story. You never want some of the best times of your life to be overshadowed by your mistakes, which were only a very small portion of your life. If you were asked to write the story of your life would your past mistakes be the majority of the story? I guess not, so leave the past in the past and move on.

 

5. Do not ruin your present life with the past

Do not erase your present life by staying in the past. You cannot spend your time worrying about the things you should have done differently.  While dwelling on your past, you are dishonoring your present life. You won’t be able to be happy where you are now. Do not rob yourself of your happiness.

 

6. Do not miss the lessons in your past mistakes

For many of us our mistakes are how we define ourselves. You must remember your mistakes aren’t who you are.  Do not miss the lessons to be learned from those things that are now not important in your life. Unfortunately, life gives us the test first and then teaches us the lessons afterward.  Your mistakes are only part of the learning process. The messages in your past are to be used to build yourself a future that is rich, happy and successful.

“A man’s mistakes are his portals of discovery.” – James Joyce

7. Forgive so you can move forward

Too many times we hold ourselves hostage by not forgiving others and ourselves for past indiscretions.  To move forward, you have to let go of the hurt and pain that has been holding you back. Forgiveness allows you to move ahead freely. Forgiveness does more for you than for anyone else. Let go so you can live freely.

 

8. Use your past mistakes to help others

We all have things in our past that make us feel ashamed.  You are no different but do not let them keep you from forging a new future. Use your past experiences to help others who find themselves in similar situations. Use whatever it is you are ashamed of as an example to others. Let them know it’s never too late to become the person they want to become.

We all have things in our lives that we are not proud of and would love to erase from our memories but remember those are the things that make us who we are today. Do not be embarrassed by your past because those are the parts of your life that has made you stronger, wiser and more able to deal with life.

Everyday’s a new day to start all over and to learn something new. What are your plans for the future? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

 

Rose Costas is a big believer in the power of facing your challenges head on and then boldly wear your scars to show others that they too can be triumphant.  She is an accountant by profession with a new found passion for blogging and a future author and best seller. You can received her amazing free Ebook  “34 Ways to Build Your Confidence Today”.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Wordsmith

    Dec 21, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Putting failures and mistakes in their proper perspective is an important topic because a lot of people tend to hold themselves back and define themselves by their past mistakes, shortcomings, or weaknesses. I think part of the solution is to resolve to continually refocus your mind on self forgiveness, positive intentions, and gratitude for all you’ve learned and how much you’ve evolved.

  2. Laura Carter

    Dec 15, 2015 at 2:50 am

    This article is so important for so many people who don’t realize how their past effects their future and the steps to break free. I’m currently reading How to Stop Your Brokenness from Keeping You Broke, and I’m going print this article out to add to the notes in my journal. For once I feel ready to succeed.

  3. BCollins

    Dec 8, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Great article Rose, we definitely can learn from our mistakes.
    Keep up the good work. Love your Blog.

    • Rose Costas

      Dec 8, 2015 at 5:24 pm

      Life is about learning and if you are prepared to learn you will see every experience as an opportunity to learn something new.

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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