Let Go of Past Fear #3: Make It a Goal

Letting go of the past requires a lot more action that you might think.  It’s not as simple as thinking to yourself, “I’m letting this go…poof!”  Like all worthy goals, it requires some actual work on your part.  What kind of actions can you take to stop allowing past failures to affect future actions and future success?

  • Make a goal – write it down and date it.  Mine was to no longer allow past failures to negatively impact future decisions.
  • List all the obstacles in the way of achieving that goal.  You may be surprised to find that nearly all of them are internal, and most are based in fear.
  • Identify ways to meet and overcome those obstacles.  Since most of them are inside your head, put something new in there.  Fill up on positive, inspirational, motivational thoughts (I listened to self-esteem self-talk audio) to hack out the roots of your old ways of thinking.
  • Any time a challenge (fear) comes up, recognize it, look at it, and take an action in spite of it.

Remember, just because you failed today, yesterday, or just a moment ago, that doesn’t mean you will never succeed. Change your approach, and try again. I can tell you from experience, it’s better than living in the past and never allowing yourself to be free.

Final Thoughts on Letting Go of the Past

Remember, you get what you focus on.  Focusing negatively on past failures will almost always result in more failure. Use those experiences as lessons to guide you to future success.

Everyone has failed at something. Failing just means you’ve eliminated one possibility – you know that won’t work, so try something else. It took Edison thousands of tries to get the light bulb to work the way he wanted. If he’d remained mired in all those failures, we might be sitting in the dark right now!

Learning to let go of the failures will keep you going!

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Letting Go of Past Fear #2: Perceptions

In order to move forward, I had to ask myself some good (hard) questions. Believe me, finding the answers was not easy, but they are usually invaluable wake up calls. 

Here’s a big one about letting your past dictate your present:  To what extent do I believe that my life today is affected negatively by things that happened to me in the past?  Why?

Remember last week’s post about test anxiety?  When I applied this question to that experience, I saw how it had grown, and my fear of failure didn’t just apply to tests any more.  I was afraid of speaking up in meetings, of asking for a raise (back when we actually got raises), or even just asking to take one of my (earned) vacation days.

My perception of my past failures had grown into a monster.  I failed a test, so I will fail at every test, so I am a failure.   I don’t deserve…I’m not worth…They will just say no…

It had gone too far! 

Are you letting your past determine who you are today?  The ability to let that go and create yourself anew, each and every day, is completely in your hands.

Let Go of Past Fear #1: Why Your Negative Past Needs to Go

Have you thought about the positive effects of letting go? There are all kinds of things we would be better off letting go, but let’s focus on one of the hardest – the past. Letting go of the past is critical. I’ll start with a simple definition:  Letting go of the past is making a choice to live life in the present, in a positive way, regardless of anything negative that may have occurred in before.

Anthony Robbins says time and time again, “The past does not equal the future.” What does this mean, and why is it so important? What usually happens when we fail at something – try hard and fall flat on our face? Right!  We say to heck with that, I’m not trying that again.   It happens all of us, but do you remember when it began?

When we are kids, we usually would just get back up and try again until we got it right. We let go of that past failure quickly and tried again. I remember how many times I had to try to catch myself while skating backwards trying to play roller hockey. Falling and falling and falling again was certainly embarrassing, but eventually I got it.

Then I got a bit older, and I failed an organic chemistry exam my junior year of college (well who hasn’t, right?).  But that was a hump I never let myself overcome. I was so afraid of failing – petrified in fact – that I ended up failing another exam and, ultimately, the class.  To this day, I cannot stand the idea of taking a written test; that old fear is still there.

This has shaped my destiny in many ways.  I finally took the GRE,but still decided to join the 9 to 5′ers. Work wasn’t as scary.  I’d done work.  I didn’t fail at work.  I was good at work.  We tend to do what (we think is) is easier. Eventually, I was able to get the courage to start college. So glad I did.

Do I regret not overcoming some fears? Yes ! I hate the idea of letting something defeat me. But here’s the trick:  That decision to let fear rule me?  It’s in the past.  So I need to let it go.  Once I do that, I can decide whether I want to walk the same path today, or try something new.