Most of us face incredible challenges in our lives. Difficult people. Ruthless competition. Time constraints. But so many of us succumb to an imaginary and impotent demon that strangles our potential and restricts our progress. This fictitious monster is called simply … the past.
While the past can be a great teacher, it can also shackle our imagination and relegate us to thinking small. Imagine carrying around a backpack full of rocks; each piece of stone representing some past injustice or setback. As that weight increases, playing your best and highest game becomes impossible unless you’re able to release the burden and liberate yourself.
Regret is the worst human emotion, since there is absolutely nothing we can do to change history. Dwelling on the past can eviscerate your ambition and is a fast path to unachieved dreams.
It reminds me of an ancient fable:
Two Zen monks were on a journey when they came to a river bed. At the edge of the river was an elderly woman who was unable to cross the river by herself. The older monk put her on his shoulders and across the river they all went. On the other side, the monk put her down and she went on her way and the monks their way. Several miles later the older monk noticed that the younger monk was obviously troubled by something and so he asked him about it. The younger monk stated that according to the tenets of their beliefs, they were not permitted to touch women and yet the elder monk had carried the old woman across the river. The younger monk could not let it go and was angry and upset for several hours. To this, the elder monk replied. “I left the woman at the riverside. Why are you still carrying her with you?”
It’s time to focus on the present and commit to a brighter future. It’s time to stop dwelling in a pit of despair, moaning over squandered time and lost opportunity. It’s time to release the burden of the past and seize today’s opportunity. It’s time to drive change and create your best life.
In the words of the Roman philosopher Seneca, “Don’t stumble over something behind you.”
The past is dead, but your future is very much alive. Seize it.