Leadership Mindset: Totally Release the Past

The more I study and understand the nature of life and business, the more I become convinced that the “formula” for having an amazing life and a truly successful business is really quite simple. Hold onto your chair because here it is: Totally release the past, let go of all attachments and judgments, forgive everyone for everything, including yourself, be grateful for everything, and focus only on being peaceful. So there it is. Pretty simple, wouldn’t you agree? Now get to work implementing it and I can retire!

But the problem is obvious and I might have to write for the next year about what I mean by that and why hardly any of us do any of those things. Wouldn’t you agree with that too? So let’s dig into this a bit deeper so you can understand why this is a sure fire formula for happiness and success and why it seems so difficult to implement.

First: totally release the past! The value in doing this would seem to be so obvious but are you willing to do it? What is the past? It’s just a story you have that’s stored in your memory about what happened starting yesterday and working backwards. But here’s the thing: what you “think” happened never really happened. What I mean by that is that we never remember events. The reason for that is that we attach a meaning to every event and store the event with the meaning attached. But nothing ever means anything. Life is neutral. But we don’t believe that. We think everything means something.

So we take the events of life, give them meaning, and store the two away and that’s what lives in our memory. If you’re following me, can you see why I say that what we think happened never really happened? What we think happened is just a story we made up about what happened and when you couple that with the fact that we are far better at attaching negative meanings to things then positive things, you can see that essentially all of us are carrying around an enormous amount of unhappy memories. The consequences are that those memories go with us everywhere we go and color our reactions to everything and everyone.

Someone speaks to us in a way we don’t like. But we don’t just react to the person in the moment, their actions bring up all the instances in the past where we felt someone spoke to us in a way we didn’t like. And, as I discussed last week, instead of using your negative reaction to the person speaking to you in the moment as a reminder that you need to go back and “clear” all of the negative reactions that you’re storing about how people have spoken to you in the past, you react to the person in front of you and perhaps get into one more conflict.

Or, you’re up for a promotion but don’t get it. Instead of looking to see exactly what the facts are today so you understand why you didn’t get the promotion, this event becomes one more example of why you’re not appreciated, why nobody understands you or why you never seem to get a break. In other words, all we ever seem to do is re-live negative things that happened in the past over and over again.

What’s the solution: totally release the past! Easier said than done but a critically important step if you want to be successful and happy. Remember, what happened in the past is just a story you made up and far too many love to repeat the story over and over again. Let it go. Nothing that happened in the past changed anything about you. You’re still the same amazing person that arrived here the day you were born. The past is over and can hurt you not. All that really exists is the present moment and what you can use that present moment for to create your future. If you have to hang on anything from the past, hold on to only your happy memories. The negative ones serve no purpose.

Spend some time this week thinking about this and look to see if those memories that you’re hanging onto really serve you. Think about how wonderful life could be if you just let them all go and we’ll continue this conversation next week.