It’s a great relief to me that every day, you get to choose an entirely new path if you want to. I can always think of things I would have liked to have done differently the day before (usually including what time I go to bed!). Going to sleep is a good time for everything to reset, and you can try all over again next time.
That’s one reason that the morning is a good place for visualisation and affirmation. You literally decide on how you intend to act, and start to take steps in that direction as the day unfolds. Your past – your habits and what feels normal to you – will try to get you to do what you’ve always done, and sometimes they will win, but you can decide to do something else instead. It can be a long process, training yourself to make the new choices instead of the old, familiar ones.
Of course, your past will still affect your life in the future. In some ways, you are made of all the things that happened to you and how you dealt with them then. So I should have said You Are Your Past, then? Well, not so fast. You’re who you are because of your past, but you’re not stuck there. Your identity doesn’t have to stay the same.
What happens is that the temptation is to keep reacting the same way you always have, because your brain remembers the familiar ways and they’re easier to act on. But you don’t have to. Each choice you make that isn’t in keeping with your old way will start to build the muscles for the new one. (You’ll know you are getting there when you act the new way when you’re tired, by the way – this means you’ve built a new habit).
So you may have been built by your past, and you may tend to do things the way you always have, but you can decide today that you are not boxed in by your past. Your choices from now on could be completely different. And if there’s anything you’ve done that you desperately regret, well, OK, but you can’t change that it happened so you may as well accept it and see what you can do next. That’s easy for me to say, I know. But necessary if you’re going to stop letting it define your life from now on.
It seems silly and obvious, but people who believe that they can change are much more likely to succeed at doing so. And whatever your past, chances are you would be able to find an example of another person who turned their life around in some way – I personally know former drug dealers and prisoners who are now spending all their time working on behalf of young people and trying to keep them off the same path. They’re completely different from the way they were before. So even if that was your past, it doesn’t have to be your future.
Tomorrow is a new day. How are you going to start it?