Some great thoughts from Brendon Burchard
DEALING WITH THE PAST
We begin with this: aliveness, joy, openness, curiosity, love. Whether or not we keep these things is up to us alone.
Yet we often blame lack of those things on our past, on those who treated us poorly in years gone by. It’s not popular to say this, but here it is: Our personal past is only relevant if we choose to make it relevant. In this moment, we can direct our aim, attitude, affection, and actions in any way we desire now, regardless of the past. This isn’t to say the past is irrelevant, or that the previous chapters of our life’s story didn’t have depth and meaning and influence. It’s simply to say that as conscious and mature humans we have the remarkable ability to direct our minds and lives in this moment.
Yes, there was pain and hardship and disappointment for all of us. But let’s not let those darker moments or years now paint the color of our emotional sky. Let us not be so confused by the darkness that we fail to see the extraordinary light, those beaming and beautiful moments that blessed our lives. It’s the lesson written in a million ways across most spiritual practices: The only useful time in considering the past is to be grateful for it, to make peace with it, to accept or forgive it, to learn from it and use it as a springboard in deciding who we wish to be today.
No one pretends this work is easy. Some find it painful, impossible. A stunning number of people are living out self-images and a set of beliefs and standards that were developed not by choice but by their automatic responses to the events and people from their past. Some make their past a convenient dumping ground for unmet expectations and regret. (“She should have treated me this way, not that way; I should have been better cared for; I wish I had done this or that.”) Some say, “Well you just don’t understand. This thing happened to me…” as if their ego has allowed them to believe they are the only one across the millennia or of seven billion alive today who endured such a thing. And so today, some blame their past (or their unconscious hangover from it) on their failures in making good choices for themselves.
Bad things happened to us, no doubt, but surely that cannot be the sole justification of bad behavior today. Good things happened, too. If only we could integrate those lessons and joys and blessings as much as the wounds.
What if a person’s bad choices or low self-image needn’t be tied to the past? For even if you wade backwards and seek the dark crevices of yesterday, what will you do after the visit? You will at some point have to swim back to the stream of Now, to stand upon the shores of today, to rest and sit down and decide who you want to be, how you want to treat others, what you want your life to be about from this moment forth. Isn’t that the aim of all therapies that glance backwards anyway? The only goal of any helpful and responsible therapy is ultimately to bring the patient back to today, to help him or her develop agency and responsibility for their lives today, to make better decisions and create healthier habits for themselves today. There is no joy or learning or growth in living in the past forever. All progress is made in positive beliefs and behaviors enacted… today.
So, for some of us, we might choose to skip all the neck cranking and simply sit down and do that work: What decisions and habits can I begin making today that will improve my life? That one question brings it all into focus.
Again, no one pretends this work is easy. Some people need professional assistance and therapy to do this work, and without question, they should seek it. So, to those who will hate on this post, or accuse me of being cold, or drag their past here screaming with great ego and hurt, or seek to belittle humankind’s remarkable ability to rise from their history and transcend, fear not: I acknowledge many people need assistance in dealing with their past (and life). And they should seek it.
I also champion people without judgment for their strength, for struggling through, for being alive today, for meeting life with hope and guts and readiness.
But I don’t fear being blunt either: Some people simply need to turn off the blame and the television, to sit down with a journal on a regular basis, and to finally, after all this time, think about their life and consciously choose their identity, their habits, their relationships, their purpose, their next chapter.
No matter where we have been, let us now be strong and grateful, and let us get to work on our lives.
Brendon Burchard – Live. Love. Matter.
Brendon Burchard Official Site. Author of The Charge and The Millionaire Messenger. Founder of Experts Academy and High Performance Academy.