You have probably read so many of these type memes on your favorite social media site. They are very clever sayings to get you motivated to possibly change something in your life. They make us feel good and by the number of likes and shares these quotes get, we love to feel good!
But is it all bull?
You might be at a time in your life where you are feeling sad, or depressed or even feeling self-pity.
Your asking yourself, “Why is this always happening to me?”
You read an inspirational quote that has some ring of truth to your situation and you start to take action. You tell yourself and maybe others, you have had enough of this and it’s time to change. Suddenly you have this great determination to move on and create something – a life!
It could be a moment later, an hour, a day or even a few days later and the determination fades. Results are not happening. You get frustrated, angry maybe and slip back into sadness, depression and self-pity.
While the above quote has an element of truth, I believe it is a little misleading. OK, I am feeling that I am being judged now! LOL
Bear with me for a moment. I would like you to do some real thinking. I am not talking about the normal thinking that we typically do which is compare received information with what we all ready know, then add value statements, and judgments which then determines whether we accept it or not. I want you to think at the level that this information is presented, and stay curious.
Getting back to the quote. Killing or allowing your past to die is impossible. It’s your past! Everything that has happened to you, every decision, every thought, every action, every feeling, emotion, situation, circumstance, struggle, victory, pain and suffering you have had in the past has brought you to HERE, to this very moment.
Its mostly due to the fact that you have allowed your past to DEFINE you. You have let all that STUFF to be used as an excuse for not living; moving forward to where you really want to be. It keeps you safe and not responsible.
That is hard to take. I know when I realized it, I was shocked. How dare you say something like that! You have no idea what I have been through, the suffering, the pain I have endured.
You are absolutely right. What I do know is that you have shackled your self to that past and it is dragging you down every time you want to do something. To let it die is not the answer because it has value.
Value? Yes real value, because it is you, however it does not DEFINE you, only DESCRIBES you. You are a person that has gone through some really tough shit. I get that.
I would really like you to try this quick exercise. Listen to your thinking right now. You might be thinking, OK I said I would read this, now your asking me to do something. I don’t have time. These things never work. Yadda, yadda – just do it! (sorry Nike) You have everything to gain, so play along.
Find a letter sized paper and a pen. Divide the paper into two columns and writing in the first column, take the next five minutes and write all the things that you would want to do, feel , have, and experience if you knew you couldn’t fail. Go crazy, the skies the limit – no – there is no limit. What is it that you really want. Don’t judge or qualify, just play and create that list.
I’ll wait here while you do that. Do not read anymore until you have done this.
Great! I truly hope you have done this and played along. There is no value in reading – only in doing! (hint)
OK, I have to assume (please don’t make an ASS out of U and ME) that you have done this. In the second column, I want you to read the first item in the first column and then write the answer to why you can’t by starting each sentence with BUT…
An example might be “I want to travel more…BUT I don’t have enough money” or “I want to exercise more…BUT I don’t have the time” Get the picture?
OK, I will wait here again while you do this.
Done? Perfect, thank you for playing, but wait there is more!
How did it make you feel doing this?
I am certain that what was written on the left side has come up before and what was on the right also. What you wrote on the right side of the page is anchored to something in your past and has become an excuse. After all if it was not an excuse, you might actually have to do something about it.
I am being tough because I care. I see potential wasted every where I go. I can only help those that are willing to really think and really have a desire for change. Not those that keep coming up with bull sh$t reasons not too. I have enough of those of my own – LOL.
Seriously – every thing on your right page is tied to a decision that you made to keep you safe and survive. You just forgot about it and ran on automatic. It’s embedded into your sub-conscious, so that you don’t have to think about it, you just automatically react.
It has DEFINED you. Your language is, “I am not good enough, smart enough, I won’t be loved, I won’t be accepted.” You go through an emotional crazy-eight of back in forth, between a passive state to an active state, back to a passive state; an never ending cycle of emotions. From sadness to anger; depression to frustration; self-pity to determination; sensitivity to defiance, then back again.
To free yourself from your past is really simple.
STOP using your past to DEFINE you. START using your past to DESCRIBE you and act towards those things that enrich your life by taking those BUTs out.
By having those BUTs in the right column KILLS everything in the left. I want to travel BUT I have no money…therefore I do not travel.
Read your first statement with the but in place. Scratch the but out and write and in its place. Read it again. Sound different?
One way kills the idea, the other only describes the situation. Much like your past, it is what it is – JUST your past. You were the one responsible for adding the value and the judgments to it. From there you came up with a conclusion and acted on that conclusion.
That is the good news and yes you still are in the muck of your circumstances. You however know that to move beyond them, YOU have to unshackle the chains of the past. Embrace and accept that you have a past and you survived, although at times I am sure it does not feel that way.
Is it easy – NO. Life was not set up that way. Without struggle, there is no award. Without pain, there is no pleasure. Life is a paradoxical. One has to learn how to regulate the emotions of those states.
Will it work for me? Absolutely. There are numerous examples of individuals who have over come amazing things to be who they wanted to be. They are no smarter or better than you are. You are not some special case that does not deserve more. The only difference between (OK there might be a couple of more) them and you is that they have not let their past dictate their future.
Actions move you forward – inaction keeps you safe and not responsible for your results.
The question is, “Are you taking actions as an expression of yourself or are you taking actions as a function of what somebody else thinks or as a function of some problem you are trying to solve or as a reaction to your circumstances?”
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity. Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart”Carl Jung, psychoanalyst and the founder of analytical psychology
Action is the key. It always has been. In every moment of time there is a potential opportunity to act and be a different way. The choice is with you. Choose wisely.
Is it all bull sh$t? Hardly…
Worth it? Yes and YOU are worth it too!
RICK RUPPENTHAL is a professional Personal and Leadership Transformational Coach and a Certified Change Practitioner. As a retired paramedic of 30 years, Rick has held positions in leadership, education, as a coach and a mentor. Through those experiences, understanding, and adaptability, Rick has dedicated his life to a continual journey of self-discovery, adventure, and guiding others on their own journey of being their best self.