We all have the tendency to cling too strongly to our past.
Our past is much easier to deal with than our future. After all, we know what happened, which gives us a certain sense of stability, and predictability.
Our future, on the other hand, is different. There is almost nothing we can control about it. At least nothing that is happening to us.
And since we dislike this uncertainty, we often prefer to delve in the memories of our past. We tell ourselves the stories of our past encounters over and over again. We tell them to others, too.
These stories can either have a positive- or a negative effect on our lives, depending on how they shape the perception they create of ourselves. For instance, one of the stories that I kept telling myself in the past was how when I was in grade 10, I almost had to repeat the year because I got a fail grade in Latin language.
In the first year, or maybe even two years, of my stay in Indonesia this story certainly had its toll on my ability to learn the language. Because I saw myself as being poor in languages, I was quite reluctant to learn the Indonesian language in the beginning. I was afraid to “fail” again.
The truth was, however, that the only reason why I (almost) failed in Latin language was that at that time I was simply not studying for it. It was a period of my life during which I was spending so much time playing computer games that I never learned any vocabulary, the grammar etc.
Obviously, when you do not study or practice the language, then you will also never become good at it.
By remembering and re-telling this story to myself, I put the label of “poor language learner” upon myself. In the end, the result of that was that I was afraid to start speaking. That’s why, before I could ever start learning the language, I first needed to let go of this story.
Here are some question that could help you to think about your own situation:
- What are some stories that you keep telling yourself and others about yourself?
- Which of these stories have positive-, and which one’s have negative implications for your own personal development?
- For those that are negative, how can you reframe this story in order to give it a positive twist for your own personal development?
- What other steps can you take in order to rid yourself of the negative stories that are holding you back?
Always keep in mind that your past behaviour doesn’t have to define who you are right now. In the past, I have shown behaviour which got poor results at learning languages. That doesn’t make me a poor language learner – it just meant that I needed to change this behaviour and develop new habits that lead me on the path to success.
Telling yourself the right stories, and letting go of those stories which are holding you back, is an important stepping stone in the direction of establishing more positive habits.