Episode 38: Confidence In Your Past
I’m LDS Life Coach, Hannah Coles and you are listening to The Confidence Catalyst Podcast Episode 38: Confidence in your Past
So many of us use the past as a way to beat ourselves up and to keep us from moving forward.
We think about past experiences and use that as evidence as to why things won’t work out for us.
In this episode, I, teach you what the past really is and how to take back your confidence no matter what your past looks like. Then don’t forget to tune in next week as we talk about creating confidence in your FUTURE!
Hello and welcome back to another episode of the Confidence Catalyst Podcast. I love that you’re here. I hope you all had the most delightful holiday season. That you savored and enjoyed your Christmas and made the most of your new year. The end of a decade and the start of the new roaring ’20s! I’m so excited about that. We had an incredible Christmas. Lots of family time and fun and then the day after Christmas my husband and I flew across the country to NYC. I’ve never been there in my entire life. I’ve been to and through and NY and Palmyra but never to the big apple so this was way fun.
It wasn’t anything I had dreamed of before or would have normally planned for myself, to go to NYC in December through New Years’. I really don’t like the cold and being cold and as we were preparing I was looking up the weather from past years and it was freezing, snowing, crazy strong winds and I was thinking, oh my goodness, what am I getting myself into? I also love my space and NYC is packed, tons of people. There were several times that we just got caught in these mobs of people where you’re pushed right up against strangers in front of you and you can’t move or go anywhere, you’re just stuck there and then there are people behind you pushing you forward as well.
I had the opportunity to do lots of self-coaching and it really was a good and memorable trip and I’m so glad that we went and got too experience all of it.
We went to see one of my favorite people on the planet, Angela Brower. She’s incredible my friends. I have to give her a huge shout out because I’m just so proud of who she is and who she chooses to be.
She had her debut at the Met and I so wanted to see her and support her in that so we planned for the trip back in June, I think and it was every bit as amazing and wonderful as we thought and knew it would be. Go look her up, follow her Instagram, download her pieces on iTunes or Amazon because she’s just phenomenal as a singer and as a human being as well so, beautiful Angela, loving you, sister!
Okay, let’s dive into our topic today. This is something that I coach on quite a bit and that you’ll find extremely useful in your own life because I’m certain it’s an issue on some level for each of you. We’re talking about the PAST today and to feel confident in and about your past. This is one of three episodes. Next week I’m going to share about feeling confident in your future, which is huge because there’s a lot of room for insecurity and doubt in our future because it’s venturing into the unknown. Then the following week I’m going to bring you an episode on feeling confident in the present moment and this is a joint episode with one of my favorite teachers and authors. Every tenth episode I share one of my favorite books and teachers that have shaped me and taught me so I’m going to be bringing you that as well to talk about feeling confident in the present moment.
But today, it’s all about the past. I want to bring this to you now because it’s January and there’s a lot of posts, pins, thoughts, and conversations spinning about reflection and thinking about the past year and not just the past year but the past decade because we’re now in 2020. And a lot of people struggle with this. They don’t want to think about their past. They don’t want to reflect. It brings up a lot of negative emotions for them so it’s just easier if they don’t think about it at all.
And while that sounds good to them, that decision, it’s not really working because it’s still there and certain things and experiences still pop up and create a lot of havoc in our minds and in our lives. So I want to offer you some help and relief when it comes to your past and also some tools you can use that are highly effective and amazing at rewriting your past so that you can look back and feel confident and grateful for where and how far you’ve come.
For most of us we tend to hold on to things in our past that are a source of pain and suffering. We feel ashamed, embarrassed, and/or guilty of past mistakes or experiences. This damages our ability to create and feel confident. We’re too focused on the past and we use the past a weapon against us. We use it as evidence that we’re not good enough, and see! This is what happened when I was ten therefore I can’t possibly do that. Or when we start to set our goals our mind is there very quickly to bring to the surface other times you’ve tried and failed and why you should just stop right now before you get hurt or ashamed again.
Other times we use the past to shape our identity and not in a good way. We use the things that happen and the experiences as who we are. I know several people that bring up the past and the experiences they’ve gone through in just about every single conversation they have. It’s no longer something that happened to them or that they went through but now it’s a big part of who they are even though it’s something that happened years, decades ago even.
The problem here is that it’s no longer serving you. I believe talking about it, thinking about it, exploring your past is helpful or can be helpful as a means to understand, get curious about, and gain awareness over but from a forward-moving purpose and I’m going to talk more about that. What’s not helpful is talking, thinking, ruminating, replaying, and rehashing our past over and over and over again to relive, to argue with, like that shouldn’t have happened!
I always think of Uncle Rico, thanks to my husband and son’s who love Napoleon Dynamite. Uncle Rico was inextricably stuck in his past with the story and identity that if only the coach put him in he’d have gone pro and making millions of dollars and living in a big ol’ mansion somewhere.
And I think we all have something, some story, some thoughts about if only something were different I would have been different. Maybe not to Uncle Rico’s extremes but something. If only I had have kept up with my instrument, schooling, or Spanish, or exercising, I’d be a different person by now. My life would be different.
And of course, it would be but it’s really important to know and be aware of what you’re making “different” mean. In this context, we think about as that different being better. That I would have been better. My life would have been better and here’s the thing, we don’t know if that’s true or not.
The beauty of the past is that it’s only two things. Pay close attention because this is upleveing stuff here. The past is only two things.
It’s either INFORMATION or it’s a STORY.
That’s it. It’s can be sorted into only those two categories. Information, facts, birthdate, certificate of birth, where you were born, what high school you went to, what baseball team you were on, where you went on vacation last year, what food you ate yesterday. All that is information. It’s all factual. We can prove it.
It’s also kind of boring. It just is.
Now, this is where we humans get creative and into a lot of trouble for ourselves. ALL the rest is a story we tell about those facts, about that information. We add the spice and interpret those facts to create a story.
Uncle Rico’s lament is that the coach didn’t put him in the championship game and now decades later he’s still suffering and living in what might have been.
One part is information and the rest is all a story. The facts are that he sat on the bench that game. That’s it. It’s not that the coach didn’t play him. Factual, bare minimum, where he was factually. On the bench.
The rest of it is all fiction. It’s all the interpretation, the drama, the story.
Your past is subject to change. It always is. There are just two categories that you can put your past in. Information and as a story.
If you don’t like thinking about your past or things in your past create a lot of negative emotions then I want to invite you to do this exercise. Take a past memory, something that creates a lot of suffering for you and I divide into these categories. Information or FACTS – no adjectives or interpretations- just facts and all the rest on the story side.
The good thing is, is that information is just that. It’s information. It doesn’t hold any meaning yet. It just is. And the rest, the story is all optional.
Stories can be changed. Stories can be rewritten. Stories are not factual and as such, they’re then pliable.
You can change and rewrite your past at any moment. This can be your distant past and things that have been plaguing you for years or this can be 5 minutes ago. It’s really important to grasp the concept and gift that you can rewrite and change your past at any given moment. You are that powerful.
I have and have had several clients who struggle with their relationship with their mothers and most of it is based on the past. How they grew up, things that were said or done, and they take all that with them into their present moment and it creates a lot of suffering and pain for them.
They reflect back and think things should have been different. She shouldn’t have said that to me, she should have been more compassionate, she shouldn’t have done that. And all this morph’s into yet another chapter of our story where we feel unloved, uncared for, disrespected, and rejected.
ALL OF THAT IS OPTIONAL.
Let me explain why a bit more because this concept will change your life if you learn to apply it. The past is gone. You’re no longer on the bench, at home (or maybe you are) but not in the same capacity of the past, you’re not that girl anymore. The past then only exists and is still alive in your mind.
And this itself is mind-blowing because even though you’re thinking of your past, it’s not the past. It’s the present moment and what you’re presently thinking about the past. This is huge because it means that you have the power over your past and what you choose to think about it in this moment, in the present moment.
Even if you’ve been spinning the story a different, lamentable way for a time, right now in this moment you have the opportunity and power to change it, to think about it differently, to rewrite your past to create something that serves you, that empowers you, that creates love for you and for them.
Your past doesn’t have power over you because it’s no longer in existence. The only time your past has power over you is in what you’re presently thinking about it. The light that you’re currently shining on it, the way you’re thinking about it right now. That’s the only power it has and it’s not “it’s” power, it’s you weaving the tale. You are affecting your present moment by telling yourself a story about the past.
This is huge because it takes away the villain status from the past. It’s not the evil past of what happened in the past that shouldn’t have happened. It’s what you want to think about it now. The past is only alive in your mind.
Your past is what you choose it to be.
Isn’t that incredible? It’s amazing that you hold so much power in recreating, rewriting, re-telling your past and what you CHOOSE to think about it. It doesn’t have to be painful. It doesn’t have to create suffering. It doesn’t have to be a lamentable tale. It can be. A lot of us choose to think about our past in that way but it doesn’t have to be. Your past is what you choose it to be. You have ALL the power here. Do you want to keep believing that painful story? Do you want to keep assigning blame and control to that other person? Do you want to keep hurting you by thinking about it over and over again?
It’s optional. You don’t have old thoughts or old pain. It’s not the past bothering you anymore. The only thing we have is our current story or interpretation of the past. These thoughts, these current, not old, but current thoughts create how you feel. It’s only your current, in the present moment thoughts about the past that is creating the suffering for you.
Think about that, friends. You don’t have old pain. You don’t have pain from past experiences. You create pain from your current thoughts. The thoughts you’re thinking in this moment. Your current thoughts create how you feel. It’s when you think about the past when you tell yourself a story about the past when you think about what happened that you create new pain for yourself. It’s new suffering, new pain that you’re creating not from the past but from right now, what you’re currently thinking about that past experience.
Notice the word experience. An experience is what you make it to be. Two people can go into a movie theater and come out with two completely different experiences. It wasn’t the movie then that creates our feelings. It was their interpretation of the movie, their interpretation of the people around them, their thought about the cleanliness of the theater, their thoughts about all of it that creates the entire experience. The only factual piece of information is the title of the movie and where in the theater they sat and how many people were in the theater. That’s it. Just boring.
The rest of it is your masterful talent of storytelling. The experience is your story and the information combined. You can recreate your past experiences by changing the story of it. Keep the information, keep the facts, but it’s within your power to rewrite the story to change your overall experiences of the past.
This is incredible power. Think about your past, think about something that has been a sore spot for a while now. Maybe it’s a relationship, some embarrassing moment when you were in the 7th grade, maybe some past choices. Don’t indulge. Just hold it in your mind for a moment.
Think about the headline of that memory. Maybe it’s “Mother wasn’t involved or caring to daughter through high school”.
Notice the headline – like going back to elementary school and learning about paragraph writing or essay writing. You’ve got your headline, right? Think about your past memory and think about what your headline would be. Now I want you to notice how that headline feels.
Our thoughts create our feelings so when you think and believe this headline, notice how you’re feeling. Then I want you to ask yourself, do you want to keep that story?
Remember, your past is over, it’s gone. The only way it’s still alive is in what you’re thinking about it and if it’s heavy, maybe you want to consider letting it go and rewriting it.
I remember hearing or reading things like, “let it go” and this was before Frozen made it cool and thinking, “yeah, but how?!” I had been offended and hurt and rejected. And when I thought about these memories or these relationships I’d feel hurt, offended, and rejected all over again. Then I’d see a post or a pin or someone would say, “let it go” and I’d want to roll my eyes and think, “yeah, that’s great but HOW? I can’t! THEY shouldn’t have done that, said that. How can I just not think about that?” And I’d dive right back into my story.
The reason it’s so hard for us to just let it go is because we don’t realize that we’re mixing the information with our emotions. We’ve spun this tale of fact and fiction to create something that feels real, and justifiable, and factual when it’s not.
Remember, the past is either information or a story and you’re the author. You get to be the editor and I encourage you to be a ruthless editor of your life. Cut out anything that’s not serving you and I know, this sounds very much like let it go only I’m going to teach you how to let it go, how to edit it out, how to rewrite your story.
The best thing you can do is to write it down. So many of us choose not to write especially in this age of texting and other conveniences but I want to encourage you to write it out. Pick one memory or one experience and write it down. Don’t edit, don’t hold back just write and write and write.
This is important to do for several reasons but one is so you can see what’s spinning in your mind. When we don’t write it out the list feels extra long because thoughts that we’ve already thought just get back in line and loop around again so this way you can tangibly see loop thoughts or other duplicates.
Another reason I want you to write it out is so you can start becoming more aware of what kind of story you’ve been hanging onto. A lot of times we don’t really have a full picture of why we’re hurt, offended, angry, sad, or rejected even. All those thoughts seem to make sense in your head but when you start trying to articulate it and get it down on paper it’s amazing how much more awareness you can have.
After you’ve got it all written out you’ll want to go back and organize it into two columns. One for information and the other all the fiction.
Be careful here. You’re going to want to put some fiction in the fact line because it feels factual to you. An example of this might be, “I lost my job” or “My parents weren’t emotionally available” – These sound factual and I’m certain you’d have lots of evidence to back them up but they’re both parts of the story and I’ll tell you why. We don’t lose our jobs, our homes, our marriages, or our friendships. They don’t just disappear and like, Where’d they go? We know what happened so we want to make it really factual and change it to, “I was fired from my position.” Or “My mom worked 50 hours a week”.
Change it from the story and your interpretation of that and make it boring facts. When you do this when you strip it down to just circumstances and plain facts it allows you the space and the blank canvas to create from.
When you’ve got it all separated out take a look at the information column and see if you can make it even more factual and bare. The more you do this the easier it is to change your story. Remove any and all subjectivity or opinions.
Then go back and ask yourself how was that perfect for me?
Jeffrey R Holland said, “The past is to be learned from, not lived in.”
When we strip the story, our story from the information, from the facts we’re not living there anymore. We’re looking back for information.
I always love and use all the time the saying, “Well, that happened, now what?” I love looking at the past from the present moment. We can’t beat ourselves up or even others for the past. Like Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, “I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
You’re not that girl anymore. They are not that person anymore. There’s no point in continuing to beat yourself up for things that happened in the past. And there’s no point in continuing to create pain and suffering towards someone else because they’re not the same person anymore either. Feeling negativity towards them isn’t changing or punishing them either. It’s just punishing you.
Forgive yourself for the things in your past. When you strip down the story to just the facts you can tell yourself, “okay THAT happened, now what?”
You can use the past as information. Well, I don’t want to do that again so now what?
And when we do this it’s compassionate and kind and future-focused because you’re not going back to the past ever again. It’s gone. It only lives on in your mind IF you want it to.
Now ask yourself, how was that perfect for me?
This might be a difficult question and you’ll need to sit with it for a while but it’s worth it. I promise you, it’s worth it.
Corinne Crabtree one of my fellow coaches and just an amazing human being said, “You’re either learning or you’re succeeding”. A lot of our past is going to be learning moments. Even mistakes and fails. Instead of feeling guilty or ashamed or embarrassed or rejected, you can choose to think those were learning moments. Been there, tried that, that was a good one-timer. That happened, now what?
You don’t have to spend your energy of focus on how things could or should have been different. It’s not going to serve you. You can just decide that you were doing the best that you could with what you had at that time and love the girl you were. You can create compassion instead of judgment and shame. Judging yourself and your past won’t create what you want now. So start with acceptance of the past.
Learn from the past and stop living there. Stop using the past against you.
We don’t need to retell the story we told ourselves before. We don’t need to follow the same thought loops we practiced before. We get to rewrite it and create a new story.
Instead of thinking, “I was so stupid and so insecure” which just creates shame and embarrassment, you can choose to think, “She tried her best. She didn’t have these tools that we have now. Look at how she was able to make it through that, look at how much she’s grown, how far she’s come. I’m proud of her and I love her.”
When you strip your story of all the addins you can start looking at it from a different perspective. Look at it from the now you. You’re not her anymore – even if that her was from 5 mins ago. At any moment you can change the course of your life but choosing to think different thoughts.
Rewrite your story from a future perspective. What will you 10 years down the road think of what happened? Will she even remember? Will she realize how much this experience was necessary for your journey? Will she love that you did your best with what you had?
Okay, one more thing with your story. For most of us, we’re so focused on the negative aspects of it. The things that we didn’t like and without realizing it we give our brains a directive to look and scour for the negatives and more things we didn’t like. But I want you to go back and try finding, looking for, and scouring for the positives. I promise you, they’re there. When you do that, when you go back through your story and you seek to find the good, it’s there. This is an important exercise because it’ll show you that your brain gives you what you ask it for.
If you’re living from a negative past that’s creating a lot of pain and suffering for you then you’ve given your brain a directive to look for the negatives and it’s just doing its job. So try on looking for the positives. The story will change. The feelings associated with the story start changing as well. Practicing this creates an entirely different past for you.
The past does not affect you now. It’s gone. It’s past. The only thing creating pain for you now is your current line of thinking and you don’t have to keep that same story. Strip it down to information. Rewrite the story. Make sure you’re the hero. Give yourself all your power back and set yourself free from those unnecessary chains.
There are things in your past that you can’t change. Those are the facts but it’s just information and now, you get to change what you’ve been making it mean. How was this perfect for me? That happened, now what? Change the story, change the meaning and when you do this, the pain leaves. This is what we mean by let it go. Don’t keep holding on to the thoughts that cause you pain, the thoughts the deprive you of joy. You let it go by rewriting it. By examining it and making it factual, looking at it as information and not emotion.
You always have your agency to rewrite your past, to look at your past from a future perspective and what you want to do with it now, how you want to view it, what you want to think about it. You are so powerful. Spin a beautiful tale that will empower you and motivate you to move forward and shine instead of hiding in the dark.
When you do this your confidence will increase because you’ll learn that the past can’t hurt you anymore. The things that happened, the experiences that you had were just classes, just knowledge, just information. They’re not weapons, they don’t prove or say anything about you. Just because things didn’t work out then doesn’t mean they won’t work out now. You can do this, sister!
Make sure you go to members.thecatalystcoaching.com and sign up for my monthly membership. It’s only $50 a month, super affordable and this one program will up-level every area of your life. Come get coached by me and get real help towards creating a past that you love and that serves you.
Okay, see you next time!