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Your past does not define you. It prepares you.

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Do you ever find yourself thinking about something you did in the past, wondering what it would be like if you had done something differently?

Maybe you wish you could take back one of the things you said. Or perhaps you wish you could have acted differently. Or maybe you wish that your situations had been different and someone else hadn’t hurt you the way they did.

Part of being human is having to deal with the fact that some things don’t go the way we wanted them to. And that’s okay.

While your past might not be perfect, there is still a lot you can learn from it. And the biggest, most important thing to remember is that your past does not have to define you, if you don’t let it. No matter what happened in the past, you can use your past to your advantage by thinking of it as a preparation for the present and the future.

Don’t Let the Past Define You

The beauty of your identity is that you decide who you are. What happened in your past does not have to define who you are.

For example, if you tried to start a business and failed, you could define yourself as a “failure”. Maybe you walk around with the burden of being a failure, and you live every moment as if you are a failure. As a result, you will never try again, making you a failure by default.

On the other hand, the moment that you decide “I’m worthy of success”, you redefine who you are. You will look at the past failure as a series of challenges and a lesson that made you stronger; the failure will now be something that pushed you closer to the right path. You will act like somebody who is successful. You will take the chance. You will be more confident. You will try again. And that’s the only way you CAN be successful again.

Let Your Past Teach You

Every situation in our life has the capacity to teach us great lessons. A ‘bad’ situation is only 100% bad if you let it be a struggle and you choose to not get anything out of it.

For example, maybe you invested all your savings in setting up a business which failed. While this can be an extremely unfortunate situation, it can also teach you a lot. You might learn that it is unwise to spend all your savings on a risky idea. You may also learn what does not work in a business, and what you could have done differently. Going forward, you are wiser financially and in making business decisions.

But what about the times when the past wasn’t your fault? Maybe someone hurt you in a relationship or you grew up in an unsupportive environment. There are still important life lessons to be learned. For example, if someone in a past relationship broke your trust, you can be more cautious of who you trust in the future. In addition, it can be a learning lesson of how to treat other people in the future as well.

Forgive Yourself and Others

Arguably the most powerful way of breaking the hold the past has over you is forgiveness. When you forgive, you let all the anger, bitterness, hurt, resentment, and regret melt away. The past cannot be changed, so why are you carrying the weight of it? Forgive yourself and forgive those who hurt you. This will make you feel so much lighter so that you can then focus on the present and creating your future intentionally. If you wish you had done things differently in the past, that means you have grown, and that’s a great thing to celebrate!

Remember, you cannot change anything in the past. The only thing you can change is what you do in the present. So, create the present and your future intentionally.

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