Remembering that your past doesn’t have to determine your future can be difficult to comprehend when you’ve been through a lot of trauma and painful changes.

Why does our past determine our future?

Being trapped in the past can make it feel impossible to move towards the future.  It’s almost like we have had blinkers fitted.  This means we can’t see anything different and so we build up a massive narrative or story to accompany the thoughts and feelings from the past.  This narrative or story may consist of:

What has happened?

The actions and words of others.

Your feelings about the situation.

What happened next?

Long explanations of how the escalation of thoughts and feelings.

With this series of thoughts and feelings, we are subconsciously developing a complicated narrative or story of evidence, logical or otherwise to why we should keep it alive.  Keeping you a prisoner to your past and loss of freedom to your future.

What gets in the way of our future?

This happens for several reasons and a complicated mixture of

Our personalities.

Past experiences.

Our self-limiting beliefs.

Perception of ourselves and how we think others perceive us.

How we process the information.

The more you repeat and replay the fact and the story the stronger it will become.  This repetition will then become familiar to you rather like re-reading the same book, listening to the same music and watching the same film.  It is easy on the brain.  You know what’s going to come next, what’s going to happen and how you’re going to be feeling.  This familiarity then becomes a habit which is difficult to break, just like other addictive habits and behaviours such as alcohol, drugs, chocolate and shopping.

Why should you change this?

I hate to answer a question with a question but, “If you don’t start making changes, how is life going to be any different for you?”

Our past determines our present and our present determines our future.

In other words, do you want what happened in your past to keep re-occurring and influencing or infecting what you’re thinking, feeling and doing tomorrow, next week, next month and next year?

How can you change the past and how can you change the future?

Our minds work like a complicated set of cogs that need to fit into place to start making changes to the way we think and feel about past events.  It’s very easy for people to say, “Just put it behind you”.  Unfortunately, you’re never going to eliminate the past.  However, you can start to control how you think and feel about it, creating a better thinking process and habits.

Celebrating being able to see a great future

7 Steps to Determining Your Future.

  1. Make a definite commitment to wanting to make a difference.  Making this decision will help give you more focus.  Writing yourself a goal will also support this commitment to change. Read it regularly, especially when you’re struggling with meeting this goal.
  2. Don’t be frightened to come head-to-head with your feelings.  Acknowledge them and accept them.  Difficult feelings can be very painful.  The feelings will bring back memories but journaling will help you download them so that you can begin to escape them. 
  3. Start by telling your narrative or stories is also a form of downloading.  Journaling is an excellent starting point.  The more accurate you can be about the situation, your emotions, feelings and thoughts will give you more release and effective downloading.  You could write it as a letter, or a story or even use poetry or lyrics to express what you may not be able to verbalise.
  4. Take responsibility.  You are the main character in this narrative or story and so you need to take responsibility for these processes if you want to move on. A support structure will always be helpful whether this is a friend or something more formal.
  5. Practising mindfulness is a great way of being present in this moment.  Being able to be present in the moment will give your mind a rest from the negative emotions, feelings and thoughts that have been hounding you for weeks, months or even years.
  6. Practising self-compassion is about being kinder to yourself.  We can be very harsh on ourselves and it’s not a helpful place to be putting ourselves in when we’re trying to manage change like this.  Realising that any significant change isn’t going to happen overnight but you can start noticing a difference quickly.  Successful change to your mindset stems from getting started and being consistent and committed.
  7. Decide what is helpful and unhelpful. Our emotions, feelings and thoughts are for a reason.  They are giving us information.  The problem is we don’t always use them in the best possible way.  Practising self-honesty is the way to learn and understand what you’re thinking and feeling. Then you can decide what is helpful or unhelpful. Learn from them, adjust them, use them or discard them, reducing the effect of negative interference.

  • It's important to remember that the sooner you commit to yourself and to making a change to how you feel about your past the sooner you can start to think and feel differently.  Therefore, your past doesn’t have to determine your future so live for your future and not be shackled to your past.
  • Breaking free of your past shackles

    Bird breaking free from the confines of the shackles

    Let's talk about how I can support you and help you end the sadness to restore happiness back into you life.

    About the Author

    Cath Lloyd

    British TEDx Speaker, life coach and author of “When Dad Became Joan” with her second booking coming out at the end of 2023, Cath Lloyd was a shy and unconfident student at school. Learning from her life experiences has developed her confidence, enabling her to share her voice, ideas, thoughts and feelings.

    Cath has spoken on local radio, Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour as well as many podcast shows. Cath is promoting the importance of self-honesty to learn and understand yourself. The other is, communication is one of the keys to keeping your emotional, mental, and physical balance and keeping family life running more smoothly.

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