Daily Archives: January 21, 2012

How To Stop Focusing On The Past

The past is in the past. I’m sure you have heard that phrase before. Well, it’s true. The past will always remain in the past and no matter how hard we pray or wish, the past will never be changed. Many of us have things we regret from out past. Some have so many regrets that the list never seems unending. We spend so much time reliving the past and wondering how our life could have been differently. We ponder the past with embarrassment and compare that to people who have a past that seems more positive and healthy. We may have lost important people because of those mistakes. We may have wasted opportunities, hurt people, or been completely out of control of our lives. When this happens, many of us continue to relive that past. We dwell on the many mistakes and misjudgments that were made and continue to punish ourselves for the actions we made in the past.

Fortunately your past is not who we are now. Everyone has made mistakes but those mistakes do not define who you are now. True, we should learn from our mistakes. Looking back at the past should be done only to understand why we made mistakes and to not fall back into the same unhealthy patterns.

For instance, I had a friend who understood that hanging out with a certain crowd only fostered her to get back into the negative cycle of doing drugs. Only by looking into her past and understanding why it was so difficult to get through her addictions, was she able to realize that the social group she was spending so much time with was making those actions worse. She was trying to re-focus her life but kept making the same mistakes because she did not realize that she had to spend less time with people who were still entrenched in that world. So learn from your past and use it as an experience you can build from. Use your past to prevent you from making the same mistakes, but do not relive the past and do not let the guilt strengthen because you cannot let go of the past.

Here are some tips to stop reliving in the past:

  1. When your thoughts get redirected to the past, try and focus on your present.
  2. If you are continually haunted by your past then write down the positive actions you are doing presently. How long have you been off drugs? Are you kinder towards others? Do you listen more? Do you have healthier behaviors? Are you spending your money wisely?
  3. Try and get yourself to be busy with something. The less time you have with these negative thoughts, the better.
  4. When you think about what happened in the past, repeat aloud to yourself that it’s in the past and you are doing things much better now.

Focus On Small Improvements

I will admit that I am the type to have big goals. I’ll come up with some grand idea and sometimes I can achieve it, and other times I don’t. When I don’t achieve those goals, it ends up making me feel disappointed in myself. Even when I do achieve my goals, I end up finding that there are just more things to do which results in additional pressure on myself. It creates a cycle where I end up wanting to be the best at something and really wanting to achieve this big goal, and end up being disappointed.

It’s easier just to focus on one small goal at a time. For example, let’s say one of your hobbies is gardening and one of your main goals is to grow a large beautiful garden by the end of the summer. Instead of placing so much pressure on yourself, instead start with a more attainable goal. Maybe focus on things you can do throughout the week instead. So instead you may have the goal of clearing out the yard this week. Once that is finished, your goal for the following week can be to start planting some seeds in just one part of the yard and focusing there.

When making smaller goals for yourself, not only are you more likely to achieve your larger dreams but you place less pressure on yourself and will give yourself the time to really appreciate those accomplishments.