Free yourself from your past life to live your best life

There is no reason to delay living your best life, but to get unstuck first you have to take a look at what is keeping you from moving forward. 

Healing past wounds is a process of allowing yourself to feel more intense feelings as you explore what is holding you back. 

It is like weight training when you first start you can't lift anything heavy so you lift the small weights first, then you get used to them and then step up.

All of us probably have some form of earlier experience that keeps us in an unhelpful behaviour pattern.

I was reminded of mine the other day.

We had enjoyed a day in the sun with friends. We bopped to 1950's doo-wop, ate richly while tasting white wine with crisp floral notes. 

A dog trained our children how to throw balls, frisbees and sticks.

It was a pretty idyllic day. 

My nine-year-old stepson said it was his worst day. 

Because he didn't get to play on the Playstation all day.

For him a day where he is doing one fun thing but wants to do another fun thing is terrible.

Immediately, my mind went to my worst day, remembering that it was only a couple of weeks after my ninth birthday. 

We carry our experiences with us all the time there is no delete button and at any moment any image, word or thought can bring something from your past into the present day.

My worse day started with my mother telling me, "Your father is dead."

That's how I remember it anyway: A simple, unemotional line almost thrown away, me then withdrawing and going silent.

My mother comes in from the kitchen a while later to ask if I am OK if I have any questions and I say no.

I remember it as a cold, harsh moment where I felt alone, cheated and unloved. 

A month or so earlier. I don't remember the time so well; I visited my father in the hospital. My recall of that moment now is him lying in a hospital bed, unwell; cancer has spread to various organs including his brain.  He didn’t speak to me much apart from a request for a kiss on his cheek. 

As we are walking out hand-in-hand I asked my mother, “Is dad going to be ok?” 

Yes…

And now I’m angry at my mother for lying to me.

My worst fear had come true and no matter how sensitive my mother was when delivering the news to me, how well-intentioned her efforts to protect me from my emotions. Receiving that news shook me to the core of my being.

The effect of an event like that when you are that young shapes your entire existence. It becomes a story that changes and develops as you change and evolve.

You develop ways of being that makes sense to you, but probably doesn't make sense to others.

My father's death took love away from me, I then searched for it in all the wrong places. I ran from myself and created a false self that fitted in with the false self of others.

I wanted to fit in because I felt broken, incomplete and not whole. I bought into the myth that what people think of me is the most important thing.

I got good at getting people to like me; I noticed that I could even exaggerate and lie a little to get people to feel something for me. 

I become fearful and anxious about a personal loss in my life. I would push people away and keep them at a distance at the same time I would hold onto relationships too tightly.

Even now at the age of 46, I withdraw into myself when I feel lost and confused. I keep my emotions to myself, but I'll talk about yours all day long.

It's fueled my low self-esteem and low confidence in myself and my intense feelings of not being good enough.

It also gave me a certain amount of resilience; I've not yet had a worse day than that day in my life. 

And even if I do, I know that I'll get through it because I've already got through something terrible.

It gave me a strong desire to live my life. I know that life can change in a second so you might as well live it with everything that you've got now.

But this event has kept me stuck for many years.

I kept trying to seek the approval of the father I never had, an impossible task. And yet, even now I still ask myself the question what would he have thought of me?

What's kept me stuck with this one event is not integrating my whole experience.

Not looking it from a different perspective and not just the rigid story I've created around over the years.

In reality, my mother wasn't just trying to protect me from painful emotions; she was also trying to protect herself from her painful emotions. 

She felt overwhelmed, lost and confused.

Imagine how you would tell your nine-year son that their father had just died?

You’ll do the best you can with the knowledge and experience you have at that moment.

My mother's perspective of how that day unfolded is different from mine. She will have her memories, stories and impact in her life from that event. 

From that perspective, I can see that I'm telling myself a story not because it is true but because it is right, and any way out of my story invalidates the narrative of who I am.

Just as important as taking different perspectives is the role of forgiveness for yourself and others.

I couldn't get unstuck from this event in my life until I had forgiven myself, my mother and my father.

I had to forgive myself for all the times that I was angry and frustrated with others.

I had made this story the cause of all my problems, and it became my excuse and reason for not taking responsibility for my emotions and actions.

Every time I reacted to my emotions around this story I wasn't living life in line with my values and who I wanted to be; peaceful, loving, kind and compassionate.

I had to forgive myself for not being this person with my mother with my angry nine-year-old self always in control.

I had to forgive my mother for trying to protect me from my emotions and in the process not allowing me to process them. I didn't go to my father's funeral as it was thought the best thing was to send me off to school.

I never had my chance to say goodbye, and I was angry about that, and anger keeps you in pain.

Finally, I had to forgive my father for dying. I blamed him for leaving me alone and confused. In my nine-year-old brain, dying seems like a choice rather than an obligation. 

I never remember my father being abusive or unkind; the problem is that now I don't remember him at all.

It is just echoes of long-dead memories that I continuously try to recall.

His death caused me pain, and I had to navigate my teenage years and my twenties without his guiding hand. 

I needed to forgive him for not being there.

But forgiveness is the power to choose how things affect you.

When you forgive you win, you stop being a victim and unhook yourself from all the adverse effects of past.

You let go of the shame, guilt, and anger.

If you feel stuck in your relationship and you forgive the other person you are now free to make it work or walk away.

And far from letting the other person off the hook, forgiveness releases you from any sense of guilt or blame. 

It frees you from blaming yourself and the feeling you could have or should have done things differently.

Forgiveness, acceptance and compassion set you free.

Conclusion

We all have times in our life where we feel stuck. Where we can't see a way out of our problems, and we suffer the daily grind.

And you may be one of the few lucky ones without any major trauma in your past. 

But we all have the version of our worst day, and even worse than that we all have experiences of moments which caused us to feel pain and to suffer.

We collect never ending experiences of negative events that return to haunt us. 

There is no delete button in life, and your past sits in you and sometimes will weigh you down and keep you from taking the next step.

And the older we get, the more our experiences keep us from experiencing life at its peak again. 

All of our life paradigm-shifting moments during our teens, 20's and 30's by our 40's we become frozen and fixed, and we assume that is how it is going to be.

We give up trying to be or doing something different because our life experience tells us that faith no longer works.

Every experience that we have in life gives us something and takes something away from us.

For a long time in my life, I focussed on the loss that my father's death gave me. 

But it also gave me strength and resilience. But most of all it gave me a drive to never stop living, to never stop growing and to never stop learning.

I learnt at an early age that life could be over before it has even begun. 

Getting unstuck means you've got to take that tiny step towards what is keeping you stuck.

Only then can you free yourself to live your life on purpose.

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