If you don’t allow yourself to move past what happened, what was said, what was felt, you will look at your present and future through that same dirty lens.
You can never change things by holding on to the existing reality. To get ahead in life, you have to leave some things behind and build a new model for living that makes the existing model obsolete.
You must make a firm decision that you’re going to make a change too. It won’t always happen naturally or automatically. Sometimes you will have to rise up against the wind and say, “I don’t care how hard this is! I don’t care how disappointed I am! I’m not going to let this get the best of me! I’m leaving this behind and moving forward with my life!”
Starting today, it’s time to leave behind…
1. The idea of what could have been (or what should have happened, but didn’t).
Before you can truly live today a part of you has to die first. You must completely let go of what could have been, how you should have behaved and what you wish you would have done differently. You must accept the fact that you can’t change your past experiences, the opinions others once had of you, or the immediate outcomes from their choices or yours.
When you embrace the present truth then you will begin to understand and feel the true power of forgiveness as it relates to others and yourself. From this new awareness you will be free to take the next best step forward.
2. The idea that making another excuse makes sense.
There is always a lie embedded between a promise you made to yourself and the excuses for why you haven’t followed through. To rush into explanations of any kind is always a sign of weakness.
Stand strong! Life is a continuous exercise in creative problem solving. A mistake or a delay doesn’t become a failure until you refuse to correct it. Thus, most long-term failures are simply the outcomes from people who make continuous excuses instead of decisions, even though they know better. Don’t be one of them.
Decide to do what you have to do, for yourself. Trust me, in a year from now, you will wish you had started today. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Goals and Success” chapter of the NEW edition of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. The idea that you must shrink to be in some relationships.
You have to admit, to a certain extent, you have spent too much of your life trying to shrink yourself. Trying to bend in half. Trying to become smaller. Quieter. Less sensitive. Less opinionated. Less YOU. Because you didn’t want to be too much or push people away. You wanted to fit in. You wanted people to like you. You wanted to make a good impression. You wanted to be wanted.
So for years, you sacrificed yourself for the sake of making other people happy. And for years, you suffered. Let this be your wake-up call…
The primary reason that a toxic relationship situation holds you back has little to do with what the other person does directly to you; instead, it’s about how you have to constantly shrink yourself to conform to the situation. The pain and toxicity festers when you choose to shrink.
When you choose to pull back, say less, or restrain your magnificence in any way out of fear, out of logic, or out of the cleverness to survive in a relationship, this spells trouble.
So it’s not about them, really, it’s about your response to them.
The next opportunity you have to spend time with this person (no matter how necessary, obligatory or comfortable it may seem), ask yourself:
Will I have to shrink to make this work, or is this a situation where I can grow?
Call on your courage and logic when you answer this question. And give yourself some space if that’s what you need to grow.
4. The idea that it’s too late to come clean and be completely honest.
There are absolutely no guarantees when you finally come clean and practice honesty with people. Sometimes you lose what you once had. Sometimes you don’t win love and trust back. Sometimes your mistakes cut ties. Sometimes you break your own heart in the process. Sometimes you lose your footing and your way. Sometimes you end up feeling worse off than you did before. But even a step or two backward, after making a wrong turn, is a step in the right direction. You walk away from every act of honesty with a heart free from lies and regret. You have closure, one way or the other, and this helps you in the long run.
Over time, you heal and find yourself living a life that’s far from the mental torture chamber you once lived in. This path to freedom and happiness is the scariest one you will ever navigate. However, it is the path that ultimately saves your life. (Read Loving What Is.)
5. The idea that you have to be perfectly OK all the time.
Even if it’s true that you’re growing and healing, and that it will be OK… it’s not always OK right now, and sometimes that’s all we can see and feel when we’re in the midst of a difficult life event. Sometimes NOT being OK is all we can register inside our tired minds and aching hearts. This feeling is normal. This emotion is human.
The truth is, it’s not OK when someone you love is no longer living and breathing and giving their gifts to the world. It’s not OK when everything falls apart and you’re buried deep in the debris of a life you had planned for. It’s not OK when the bank accounts are nearly at zero, with no sign of a promising income opportunity. It’s not OK when someone you trust betrays you and breaks your heart. It’s not OK when you’re exhausted to the point you can’t get yourself out of bed in the morning. It’s not okay when you’re swimming in failure or shame or a grief like you’ve never known.
Whatever your challenges are, sometimes it’s simply NOT OK right now. And that, above all, is more than OK.
Yes, be OK with not being OK all the time. Those with the strength to succeed in the long run are the ones who lay a firm foundation of growth with the bricks that life has thrown at them. Don’t be afraid to fall apart for a little while, because when it happens, the situation will open an opportunity for you to grow and rebuild yourself into the brilliant human being you are capable of being.
What would you add to the list?
What, specifically, do you know YOU need to leave behind to get ahead in life?