Have you ever felt like one of Dr. Doolittle’s “Push Me Pull You’s” with your past pulling you one way and your future attempting to pull you another?
We all have things from our past that have held us back or kept us stuck. It can be painful and frustrating when we come up against something from our past that is keeping us from moving forward powerfully. Unfortunately knowing why we are stuck does not always help us get unstuck!
Here is a very personal example. When I was around 10 years old I started playing in my first recreational basketball league. Back then athletic girls were the exception not the norm. I was a “tom boy” through and through and had been playing basketball with the neighborhood boys since I was strong enough to reach the basket.
At the time my dad didn’t think girls belonged in sports (or business for that matter). But he loved me and wanted to support me regardless so he came to my game to watch me play for the first time.
It was an exciting game and I was scoring a lot. I thought “I am going to prove to my dad today that girls really do belong in sports”. My adrenaline was pumping. Half time came and we switched baskets. At the first tip off in the second half I got the ball dribbled down the court heavily guarded by 2 of my opponents. I scored again. The crowd roared, except it wasn’t for the reason I thought.
I had gotten turned around. As I began to register that I had just scored two points for the other team I looked at the sidelines. There was my father laughing hysterically. By the end of that game I had scored 18 points which was a lot for someone my age. But I didn’t go home celebrating because all I could fixate on was my mistake – the 2 points I scored for the other team and the overwhelming embarrassment I felt.
In the scheme of things it really was funny. Unfortunately I couldn’t see the humor at the time. It certainly wasn’t a tragedy. It was just an honest mistake. Yet it’s not what happens that we carry forward, but rather what we make it mean. Even when you intellectually understand something your mind will do it’s best to protect you from ever feeling that way again. For me I never wanted to ever feel that embarrassed or ashamed again and for a long time it kept holding me back.
Until I learned perhaps the most important lesson of my adult life – my past truly does not have to predict my future.
Now it is easy to get that intellectually, but the past often has an extraordinarily powerful grip on us. It is both the source of the best of who we are today, as well as the source of what limits us through our beliefs about ourselves and what is possible.
Our past is registered in our subconscious mind for the purpose of protecting us from pain. Sometimes the pain is physical like putting your hand in fire. You will likely not try that more than once! Other times though the pain is emotional – the kind of pain that comes from being embarrassed, getting bullied, making a mistake that leaves you feeling stupid, etc. The effect on us is the same – our subconscious mind will do anything it can to protect us from any kind of unbearable physical or emotional pain ever again.
Yet if that is the human condition then how do you move from the theoretical notion that anything is possible – that you can be, do or have anything we want in life to living that life?
The key is to first imagine a future that is compelling enough to pull you forward. You must envision a future that is strong enough to overcome the inevitable pull of the past. From there you need to keep that future alive in the present by planning your approach and taking action consistently over time.
So ask yourself right now – “is my vision for my future vivid enough, compelling enough and strong enough to pull me forward for the next year?”
Want support in creating a plan for 2013 that will ensure your future is pulling you forward? This year I am working with my friend and colleague Dana Theus to do just that. Click Here to learn the secret of setting intentions to make 2013 your most productive, least stressful and most joyful year ever. What you learn will help you to take one giant step forward in realizing the future you want.