I have written many times about the dangerous and shallow culture we live in, where cliches are shared to motivate people whether there is reality in the words or not. We read inspiring quotes on social media like (yes, these are real):
Leave your past behind, let it go.
You are not your past, forgive yourself and move on.
Social media is filled with this stuff, and if I lived to be 100 years old I could quote a different one every day for the rest of my life, and you know how much difference it would make? None. I have never met anyone who has read one of these quotes and their life has been in the slightest bit impacted. In fact, I have known people who love those cheesy motivational posters of mountain climbers and people rowing with some quote about “GOALS” or “TEAMWORK”, and if I am honest, I have found they are generally the ones who struggle the most when challenges present themselves. Why? To know the real answer you’d have to ask them, but I have a theory.
It’s easy to say something inspiring. It’s easy to quote something profound that sounds full of wisdom, but it is difficult to live it because, frankly, they don’t make sense most of the time.
For example, I’ll share the quote that inspired this article:
You did not create your past, it created you. You create your future.
OK – What? My past created me, but I create my future. What about when my future is my past, did I create that? When my past was my future, did I not create that also? Are we saying at this one point in my life, right now, today, I arrived here by accident? Everything hinges on now. RIGHT NOW!
It’s garbage, and I’ll explain why. The first thing is that all of our actions have consequences, good or bad. All of them. Those consequences (whether good or bad) create new options and decisions. We follow a path and that path has led us to where we are today. We are very much the person we have created based on our past decisions. Our choices, behaviours, decisions, mistakes and successes have brought us to this point in time. The “inspirational” quote has truth, but is founded on a lie to make you feel better. You did create your past, but your past has also created you. The good news – You do get to make decisions on your future and create it (to a certain degree) to look how you want to by taking the steps on a path you want to go down. You were created by your past, but you are not shackled to it.
Here are the three takeaways for today:
1 – If you ever see a post that says something like “You are not your past” and it makes you feel bad that you feel tied to the past while others seemingly are able to let go, know this – They aren’t.
2 – You are the creation of your past. You made decisions that had consequences (good and bad), and now you are living in the world you created. It’s OK! It’s the same for all of us.
3 – In 24 hours, right now will be the past. Today becomes yesterday and the decisions you make today create your tomorrow.
In order to not be a creation of your past you would have to be living in a world without cause and effect, and without consequences. You cannot let the past go because it is a part of you. It is the series of events that have brought you to this place. The good news is that you can make choices on what you would like the future to look like, and although your past created who you are today, today you are creating a future past which will create who you are in the future.
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