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  • Writer's pictureMegan Filoramo

Finally moving forward

“... sooner or later she had to give up the hope for a better past.”


Admittedly, I haven’t read this book…yet. But I saw the quote and it struck me. How much time do we waste hoping for a better past? Just the phrasing of it is paradoxical: hoping for the past. The phrasing beautifully highlights the futility of it, and yet, we all do it. We all use thoughts about how things should have been and how things were to shape our decisions and opinions of the present.


It makes sense in one respect, after all, the past is the only evidence we have.


But what if we could stop hindering ourselves by using evidence we don’t want, and start fresh? What if we could stop hoping for a better past and start planning for a better future?


This is true for our personal lives and our work lives, for the big things and the small things. 

Sure, I wish that COVID and its devastation never happened, but where I really get stuck is dwelling on what was said at work last week, or what structural changes happened in the office 6 months ago and the work it can create now.


And then there’s the personal life

Sure, there are some things from my childhood that I would like to change but more frequently I am caught up over the things in the last year that I would have liked to have done differently, things that I wanted to do and didn’t. I can get stuck thinking how things would have been better without illnesses and family stressors.


We can learn from the past but we can also let it distract us.

I don’t want to be distracted, not when it comes to building a better future, not when it comes to building happiness in my job and in my life.


So how do we even do this?

As always, step 1 is catching yourself in the act (AKA self-awareness). Can you start to pay attention when you are ruminating about something that is already done, when you find yourself rehashing things with a colleague or a friend? Can you notice when your brain is spending time pissed off or regretful about something that is past?

Regret is just mean. It’s using the knowledge you have now to judge your past self. Don’t be mean to yourself.


Remind yourself who you WANT to be instead of remembering who you were.


Step 2 is resisting the urge to be annoyed with yourself (once you gain awareness) for wasting time hoping for a better past. No need to be annoyed, it’s a natural human tendency. Just redirect yourself the way you would redirect a toddler who pulls away to look at something gross on the sidewalk. You don’t scream and yell and tell them they are doing something stupid or that they shouldn’t get distracted. You just redirect them, pulling them gently back to the direction they should be going.

Try this approach with yourself. Redirect your attention with gentleness.


Then comes the fun part, building something new, painting a new reality. Now that our canvas isn’t cluttered with outdated information and evidence we don’t want, we can dream of what we DO want. We can dream of a culture at work that we love and we can try new approaches to getting there. We can look at our hopes and dreams for our personal lives and not have the image muddied by what they have been so far. 


By not looking backward and expending energy trying to change the past, we will have the energy to try new things. This is important because trying new things CAN feel uncomfortable, it can stretch us in new ways. It can take social courage to work on creating a new environment whether at work or at home. 


We are expending energy one way or another, hoping for a better past or trying things for a better future. Only one will make us happier. Only one actually works.


Don’t look backward, you’re not going that way. 


 

Sometimes actually identifying what is holding you back in your life can be really difficult. You aren’t sure where to start, you aren’t even sure what would make you happy or what that would look like. You just know that where you are now is not where you want to be for the rest of your life. 


This is one of the benefits of a coaching consult call. We get super clear on what is keeping you stuck, we clearly define the problem and identify what strategies can help you move forward. Even if we aren’t a good match to work together, that hour call is not wasted.


You can come away with a new clarity, the first step to actually feeling better. Click here to schedule a time today.



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