You Are Not Your Past

Once you recognize that you are not your past, you also see that your future can be different.

The place where the troops camp
thistles and thorns grow.– Lao Tzu

You are not the choices you’ve made.

You are not the child you once were.

You are not your failed marriage.

You are not the setbacks of yesterday.

You are not the bad things that have happened to you.

You are not your past.

The Past Guides Our Choices — It Doesn’t Make Our Choices For Us

Your thoughts or feelings about the past don’t change it. That’s what makes it the past.

Your future is not your past. Your future, right now, is a nest of possibilities. It looks like your past only if your present choices continue the inertia of the past.

The past guides our choices; we have real constraints, opportunities, and experiences based on the past. Right now, though, those constraints, opportunities, and experiences are what they are — wishing they were different doesn’t make them different.

Whatever happened, you are here. But being here doesn’t mean that you have to stay here or that you will stay here.

Life is but an endless chain of presents and choices. You have never been your past.

What If You Stopped Attacking Yourself?

What if you stopped beating yourself up about what you did or didn’t do? Perhaps you’d see what you can do.

What if you stopped wishing that things were different from the way they are? Perhaps you’d see how to move toward the future you want by using the bounty of the present.

What if you didn’t assume that past failures are who you are? Perhaps you’d believe, just for a second, that you could be successful.

What if you chose to let the past be the past? Perhaps you’d see the ripe possibilities of the future.

Every ounce of energy that you spend attacking yourself is an ounce of energy that’s diverted from your growth.

We are finite beings; use your resources wisely.


Charlie Gilkey is an author, business advisor, and podcaster who teaches people how to start finishing what matters most. Click here to get more tools that’ll help you be a productive, flourishing co-creator of a better tomorrow.


If you enjoyed this story, please click the 👏 button and share to help others find it! Feel free to leave a comment below.

The Mission publishes stories, videos, and podcasts that make smart people smarter. You can subscribe to get them here.