Does your past define you or refine you?

Without my past I would not be who I am today, and without yours, you wouldn’t be you. ⁣We have a choice in how our past experiences shape us by our perspective and response to them.⁣ Having regrets is not only useless but also damaging to your self-esteem and belief in your abilities.

When you regret something you give it power over you and allow the circumstance or event to define you and shape your future negatively.

Every experience has a lesson and if you feel regret then it means you missed the lesson.⁣ Instead of an experience contributing to your personal growth and development, it does the opposite and keeps you stuck in a place of fear, guilt and shame.

⁣I have a tonne of things in my past which society deems “regrettable.” And I know this because they told me so. Once upon a time, there were people in my life who would use my past against me.  They did so because they knew I felt powerless to what took place and rubbing salt in the wound would sting hard. And every time this happened negative beliefs about myself and my abilities were strengthened.

So eventually I was left with 2 options. The first was to bury these past occurrences with guilt and shame and hide them so they couldn’t be used against me. But by doing so I would live in fear that they would someday be uncovered. The second was to accept it so it no longer had power over me and my future. Well, that second option is nice in theory but not so easy to put into practice.

I needed a 3rd options and so I entertained the idea of reframing it…

I tried switching my perspective and instead of hashing over what was done and couldn’t be changed, I looked to what my experiences had taught me what I had learned from them. And there was a tonne of lessons in there and many ways it could be spun. The more I thought about the negative elements of my past, the more I realised that they had actually created some very beneficial thought processes, responses, and life choices. And before long any negative association was events in my passed was dissolved by the positivity in my life that has come as a result of them.

We can’t find something that we are not looking for and by actively looking for the lessons I was able to recognise them and use them to my advantage. They have shaped my thoughts – my views on the world externally, my belief in my own abilities internally – and they navigate me through my life every day.⁣

For every negative, there is a positive.

Playing it safe robs you of experience and not identifying the lesson in things that don’t work out means you allow your past to define you. There is a saying, “when you look at things differently, the things that you look at change”

There are lots of things you can learn from books but I believe you get so much more from challenging your own experiences rather than learning from someone else’s.⁣

So I challenge you this week is to challenge any negative associations you may hold towards your past. Change your perspective, look for the lesson(s) and see how they can refine you – they may already have and you didn’t even notice.

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