Own Your Past!

Taking us by surprise

Moving to Your Next Level requires you to OWN your past! Periodically things pop up in your mind that sort of catch you by surprise. Some may be of your own doing, Right?!  Sometimes it is something we thought we had put behind us. Sometimes it is a bad habit, something that we know down deep we have not put to rest. But, we hoped that somehow “it” would not bother us anymore.

I suspect I am on familiar ground for most of you. I was talking with a friend recently and I said: ‘If you don’t own your past, your past will own you.’ There was a moment of silence and then a slow almost hesitant response, “…Yeah.” It is true for all of us. If we allow things we have done to bounce around in our mind and take up space it shouldn’t have, we are opening ourselves up to a coup d’etat of our psyche.

Taking Ownership

What do I mean? When we have not come to terms with our past it will own us and quite possibly control how we act. By “coming to terms” I mean accepting our missteps  as a given, not an exception, AND taking full ownership of our actions. Ownership means when we have been rude, thoughtless, uncaring, too loud, inappropriately silent, out of line or even just bombastic… not just thinking, but actually saying, “I am sorry, when I did/said ….. I was out of line and I want to apologize for my unacceptable behavior.”  Until then, we have not taken ownership. We might have said a soft, “sorry” in the moment, but it could well have gone unnoticed if the act was ‘louder’ than the ‘apology’. My counselor recently told me, “little boys say ‘I’m sorry’, men apologize”. You have to apologize to OWn Your Past.

Taking Inventory

There are often patterns of behavior that demand we take ownership. Apologizing to my family for my hot-headed outbursts was incredibly difficult for me to do. Difficult, but necessary! I still have to take ownership of behavior from time to time. And I am only recently coming to grips with my responsibility for other actions. But not as many as years ago! If there are things in your past as you do a personal inventory and those things call out for apologies, take the time to jot them down. Once you have written them down, review them, and ask yourself, “what else?” Yep, there’s probably more! If you want to free up space on your internal hard drive, you have to be able to ‘delete’ the things that are unnecessarily taking up space.

Taking Responsibility

After you have a list it is time to deal with them.  Some of the items may be from years ago and have to do with people who are no longer in your life. If they aren’t dead, you can probably find them. Trust me, this is for you, not for them! If it is appropriate to address the matter with them, do so (as long as it will NOT cause harm or damage to you OR others). If not, you are left to deal with it yourself. Don’t blow it off! It will continue to take up space on your hard drive if you don’t deal with it. Work it through in your mind, maybe with a trusted friend. Accept your part in it, don’t equivocate! Don’t hold out for THEIR apology, this is for you!

Taking Charge

Go down the list one at a time, accept responsibility and offer apologies as appropriate. As you get through the list, I bet you will feel a sense of release and freedom. Those things in your past that bother you, that linger and leave a bad taste, are parts of your past that OWN YOU! And until you own your past, it will continue to own you. Some things may not require more than your truly thoughtful consideration and internal dealing, but some may require a face-to-face sit-down “I am truly sorry for…” to happen. Do what is right. You are in charge of it because it is for you that you need to do it! SO clear up some space on your hard drive, make a list, check it twice, deal with it and take ownership of your past. It has owned you long enough.

As I read through this before posting, I had to make some changes , and to own that I still have plenty of work to do on me. As long as I still have breath I will have more to do, and so will you! Don’t let the past stay in the way of your future! Own your past. That will help you get to Your Next Level!

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