Recently I was watching television and caught the tail end of a powerful statement, I wish I knew who to credit for his/her brilliance. The statement was “Settle the past. Engage the present and believe in the future.”
WOW. What an insight.
I flew out of my chair to find a pen.
Throughout the evening I found myself reflecting on this statement and the power of the words which moved me to action. To bounce forward, that is to be resilient, you must be able to settle the past, be engaged in the present and have belief in the future. That doesn’t however mean this is a simple task.
For many years in an earlier career I was a Correctional Officer (yup that’s right! A Correctional Officer), and I remember thinking how many inmates (even some staff) were plagued by their past, struggling in their present and had no belief in their future. Years later as a mediator, I often mediated situations of family conflict, and the past always came up. Instead of being engaged in the present, many were still both feet in the past. Because of this, it was difficult for them to believe in the future. As a former mediator in workplace situations I saw this same challenge, people championing the problems of the past causing them to disengage and be present.
Here are some simple tips to Settle the Past:
- Listen to your story. Everyone has stories of the past that come up in conversation. When you tell the story, are you “detached” from it, or do you find yourself with both feet back in the moment? A good way to tell is your emotional state when you tell the story. And, pay attention to these stories that run through your thoughts. The great news is that you can change your story.
- Decide to forgive. Look at the situations, disappointments and unresolved issues that are weighing you down. You may not be able to fix or resolve the past, it has already happened, but, you can forgive or resolve for the future. And, forgive yourself for mistakes you have made that you continue to self blame.
- Give up blaming. Blaming seems to increase the emotional state and can certainly damage relationships. Look at what is within your control to fix and what is not, and put your attention and action on what you can control.
- Reframe and change your language. Instead of saying “I regret not making things right with my supervisor” say “I look forward to righting situations and conflicts if they arise”.
What do you need to settle from the past to move forward?
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