A few days ago I was having dinner with someone and he mentioned to me how sometimes it’s good to do something uncomfortable. How are we supposed to grow and adapt without being uncomfortable or leaving things behind? An interesting question that made me think about the things we must leave behind to move forward in our lives. Change cannot happen without leaving something behind and taking a risk and doing something uncomfortable.
Below are 7 things you must leave behind to move forward in your life.
1. Your mistakes or missed opportunities. All of us have a situation where we look back and realize we could have done or said something better. Maybe there was an opportunity that you let slip through your fingers. Perhaps you made too many mistakes. Now is the time to leave your mistakes and missed opportunities where they belong, in the past. There is nothing you can do to change what happened. When you stop dwelling on past mistakes, you free yourself to grow and move forward.
2. Who you thought you were. Over time you have probably changed. Maybe your values have changed or maybe the way you approach experiences and situations has changed. Your personality or passions may have changed. For the majority of my life I always thought of myself as shy. Holding onto this idea of me being really shy made me downplay instances where I put myself out there and created a warped perception of who I was since my actions, interests and social skills did not really match to my image of me being shy. I would tell people I was shy or discount experiences where I showed confidence. Over the past few years I’ve had to let go of the idea that I’m really shy. Sure, I’m shy about certain things such as dancing but in general, I’m not a shy person. This is just a minor example of the ways that I’ve had to redefine myself over the years.
Sometimes change may feel uncomfortable, especially when it touches things we used to value or care about. My values have changed significantly in the last 5 years and some of that has been difficult to accept or come to terms with. However, the only way to move forward is to let go of the old you and allow yourself to grow into the new you.
3. Excuses. Making excuses distracts you from accomplishing the real goals in your life. Your excuses are holding you back from making progress in many areas of your life. Take a close look at the reasons you are giving to prevent you from moving forward in your career, dreams and relationships. Often times we may be blind to the fact that we are even making excuses.
I have a friend who used to always make excuses on why he should not apply for a new job. To him, these were not excuses but legitimate reasons. He might tell himself that he loved his coworkers or that he was just waiting for his bonus. However, he used these reasons to not change his job for years. Ultimately these were excuses. Take some time to assess the reasons you are giving yourself to not move forward. Be honest if these are excuses that are holding you back from progressing. Now is the perfect time to leave behind the excuses.
4. Bad relationships. Think about all the relationships that you currently have in your life. Be honest with yourself. How many of your friends are good friendships that nourish and add to your life? How many people add drama, negativity and do not really support you? Are there people in your life where you are their pillar of strength but they are never there for you? Do you feel like certain people accept you as who you are or do you think they will run away when they see certain parts of your life or personality? Do you walk on eggshells around your partner and feel he would leave you if you vocalized your needs? Do you feel like your friend is only using you as a means to an end for something?
As hard as it may be, to move forward you have to gravitate away from toxic relationships in your life. You may not realize how much unnecessary time you are spending with the wrong people or how you might be changing yourself in negative ways to fit in with the wrong people. Be careful of spending too much time with these people as you may lose track of who you are and what you really care about by being around the wrong people. Remember that the first step to saying goodbye to toxic relationships is to sit down and really assess if your relationships are toxic. It is easy to make excuses for someone’s poor behaviour so take the time to really understand if your relationships are positive, and supportive. Also don’t be afraid to test your relationships. Ask a friend for help and see if they follow though. See if your friend or partner is there for you when you need support. Kindly let someone know your needs and see how they respond. Doing these things every once in awhile will help you measure the strength of your relationship with that person because the people who truly care for you will be there for you.
5. Old or negative routines. You may have outgrown your hobbies and interests or simply got bored of them. Or maybe there are routines that you partake in that add negativity within your life. Part of moving forward is being able to walk away from the routines that may feel familiar and comfortable but do not add anything to your life anymore. Some routines may be easy to give up while others have become an unhealthy addiction that you know are bad for you, but struggle to let go of. As uncomfortable as it may feel right now, it is time to let go of routines that do not have a place in your life anymore.
6. That belief that everything will always be okay. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by emotion and not be okay. It’s okay to have that day where you break down in tears, cannot leave the bed and really feel like things aren’t going to be okay. You may have lost your relative, just gotten out of a divorce or just in a period of life where you feel lonely. With all things in life there will be ups and downs and it’s okay to accept that there will be days where you will need to ask for help and rely on others to help you move forward. Part of realizing that things will be okay again, is accepting that there are times when you won’t be okay. And hey, that’s okay and sometimes even a good thing. Part of moving forward is accepting that some things are out of your control, and even if you feel overwhelmed right now, you will be okay again. This is the time when you take care of yourself and learn how to navigate through this difficult period of your life.
7. Resentment. Holding onto bitterness and hatred does not serve you. Yes, someone has hurt you or maybe life has been unfair to you. Perhaps the people who should have loved you were the ones who caused you the most pain. And sure, some people are just so toxic that you simply can never have them in your life ever again. When you let go of that bitterness and resentment, you free up emotional space. Instead of holding onto negativity, you let that go and can move on. Work on forgiving others and yourself. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for yourself is to simply forgive and let go.
Leaving things behind requires strength and you do have that strength within you. As difficult as it may feel right now, you have to be willing to let go of things to push yourself to the next chapter of your life. Part of becoming who you are meant to be is letting go of things that do not have a place in your life anymore. Take the opportunity to grow. Embrace the courage within you to leave things behind and move forward.