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Shaking the Shadow of Our Past

July 25, 2011

Shaking the Shadow of Our Past

“The shadow of the past holds the future hostage.”  I read this line on a poster and it captures in one sentence the problem that prevents many of us from realizing our ambitions and dreams.  Our past can be a dead weight that locks us in an unfulfilling present by creating psychological barriers that are difficult to break through.  As a result, our future could look very much like our present.  In that sense our past may be much more than a dark weightless shadow.

Heavy shadows that stretch into our past and inhibit our growth may include:

  • Big mistakes that make us so risk averse that we do not recognize or seize new opportunities, or we talk ourselves out of pursuing them.
  • Admonishments from parents, teachers and others that make us feel guilty about succeeding, or that we cannot do it, or that we are unworthy of it.
  • Resentments and anger about past slights that disagreements that have destroyed or significantly damaged relationships we once valued.
  • Self-talk based on bad past experiences that convinces us we cannot do something.
  • Setbacks that occurred from insufficient effort, skill, knowledge, or resources that keep us from trying again or seeking solutions or partners for moving forward successfully.

These are just a few of the shadows of the past that could prevent us from becoming who we would like to be . . . and creating a future that is more fulfilling and invigorating than our present.  What are your shadows?  Identifying them is the first step to overcoming them.  The next step is making a concerted effort to put them into the past and keep them there . . . which is where they belong.  Doing this is much harder than it sounds.  Here are some keys to achieving it and breaking free:

  • Develop a vision of your future.  This is as simple as describing in a sentence or two what success looks like for you.  Then post it somewhere prominently so you can be continually reminded.
  • Identify what you want to be known for – the kind of person you want to be, the values you wish to embody – and then consciously make them a part of your life.  The process of creating your future should resemble what you’d like your future to be.
  • Breathe the spirit and inner magnificence you possess into the world.  Don’t keep them inside.  Make them a part of who you are.
  • Take the initiative over and over again to make progress.  Take reasonable risks and do not fear setbacks.  You will have them.  They are learning opportunities and help you build a base of experience that will drive future success.  Without risks there are no breakthroughs.
  • Believe in possibilities, talk incessantly about them, and act to bring them about.
  • Make constructive and positive choices for moving forward.
  • Build and restore relationships.  None of us can succeed solely by ourselves.  If past relationships have been problematic, repair them or if they are truly beyond repair, move past them.
  • Move from passion to action to fruition.  You can only fulfill your vision and purpose through determined action.

What are your shadows?  How are they holding your future hostage?  How can you unshackle yourself from them to create the future you most desire?

Steve Weitzenkorn

Our book, Find Fulfill Flourish, was won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and  named a Finalist in the Self Help category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times calls it “an inspirational tour de force” Click here to purchase it. Click here for an overview and here for a free sample chapter. Book readers also receive FREE access to all premium exercises and content on our website.

Take the FREE Guiding Values Exercise.

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