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How your past affects your present-day life (and future).

The four top practices to begin thinking in the now.

Many adults have had to or wanted to start over with something in their lives. Maybe your job no longer challenges you and has become boring, or perhaps your personal life is not the way you pictured things going by a certain age.

We often find ourselves staying with the same relationships and activities out of fear of change.

What if I fail?

When you have tried new things in your past, and it hasn’t gone well, the same outcome seems to take root in your life.

For example, when you were 18 years old, you found the “love of your life,” only to find out after a few years of marriage that he wanted a divorce.

Since that time, you have dated the same type of men, never understanding why they all wanted out after a short period. You have become accustomed to the behavior out of fear of change.

How you see yourself today can be all about how you were prompted to see yourself earlier, ranging from incidents during your childhood and adolescence to different disappointments and discourages as a younger adult.

Overall, the way that you viewed the implications of your words and actions formed your central sense of self.

Let us look at the four best ways to move forward with your new way of thinking:

1. Forgiving the mistakes – Instead of working on forgiving the people in your past, try forgiving YOURSELF first: “I forgive myself for not seeing the red flags.” Now, break that down even further. “I forgive myself for not acknowledging that his temper scared me during our arguments.” After working on your personal apologies, make yourself a promise that you will not punish your future relationships with old memories. That is exactly what they are, memories. Nothing more.

2. Recognize and acknowledge your negative thoughts -- The ability to recognize the multiple places of your negative self-talk is the first step to rectifying outdated perceptions and conclusions about you and your mental environment. Now write down all the different negatives on a sheet of paper. Below each statement, write a positive way you could have responded. Read them to yourself. You will find that over a short period, your mindset will begin to change to a positive response to yourself and, inevitably, to the people around you.

3. Leave the door open – While it is perfectly normal to hold back in any new relationship, after some time, if you are still feeling apprehensive, check in with yourself. Are you punishing yourself out of fear that the new person will be just like others from your past? It’s possible you are punishing yourself for thinking you do not deserve good relationships.

Either way, ask yourself what the is the outcome of your fear. Likely, one would be the new person walks away. Stop punishing those that were not a part of that memory. Allow them to earn your trust and love. Base your thoughts from that behavior, not your personal negative thoughts.

4. Speak up – Most likely, somewhere in your life travels, you have heard the adage, “I can’t read your mind!” Many retort with, “you should be able to tell by my body language.”

While this may be helpful when speaking face to face, using body language is not being used to gauge emotions while speaking by phone or computer chat. In a study conducted in 2004, the National Center for Biotechnology Information conducted a study of over 14,000 adults, 18-64 years of age, on how many emotions they feel across the board daily. Collectively, the data showed that 41 percent of the time, they have good thoughts, while only 16 percent experienced negative thoughts throughout their day.

The number that showed alarm was that over 33 percent showed mixed emotions for several hours during the day. Share what you are feeling with your peer relationships. Acknowledge your fears out loud. You might just find they feel like that also and have been nervous to tell you.

Things To Remember

Give yourself a pep talk every day. Congratulate yourself for the good thoughts or actions you had with others. Remember that no one is perfect. We all make mistakes, and that is okay.

As Author Roy T. Bennett quoted in ‘The Light in the Heart,’ “If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”

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