“Some of the best lessons we ever learn are learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future.”
– Dale Turner
Redefine Your Past With Empowerment
I can’t change my past, however, I can change the meaning that I give to any event.
At age seven, I nearly drowned to death.
It was a bright and sunny day in rural China, my mom and I went to the well in front of the village to retrieve some drinking water.
Next to the well was a pond. While waiting for my mom to finish filling up the buckets, I entertained myself by playing near the pond.
Being a naughty kid, I challenged my balance by walking along the ledge of the pond. Suddenly, I lost my footing and fell straight into the pond. Not knowing how to swim, I struggled to stay afloat by constantly kicking my legs and flapping my arms.
To this day, I can still remember the eternal struggle of trying to keep my head above the heavy water. The indelible image of submerging and resurfacing above the water is still vivid to this day.
After what felt like a lifetime, I saw a bamboo stick staring me right in the face. Without hesitation, I instantly grabbed it and was pulled ashore.
The person who saved me that day was a fellow villager. He also happened to come to the well for some water.
Thanks to that man, I survived that near-death experience. If it wasn’t for his help, I wouldn’t be able to share with you my traumatic experience.
But ever since that scarring experience, I have been afraid of the water. To get over my fear, I learned how to swim in grade school. But despite being an adequate swimmer, I still didn’t enjoy being in the water.
Deep in my subconscious mind, there were still thoughts of potential drowning. The act of simply immersing my head into the water evoked those horrific feelings that I had in the village pond.
However, everything changed when I discovered the power of embracing my past: There lies a key lesson in every struggle and hardship.
In my near-death drowning experience, I chose to view it as an opportunity to get comfortable with being in the water so I won’t ever drown again.
After actively facing my fear, I now have come to love swimming. Although it may taste salty or chlorine-like chlorine, water has become my friend who is always there to lift me up with buoyancy.
Instead of letting my past event define me, I allowed it to empower me to overcome my fear. As a result of tackling my biggest fears, I gain the biggest growth.
Now, I do what scares me the most. In the process, I’m slowly gaining courage and becoming a better version of myself.
You Can Change The Meaning of Your Past
Regardless of what has happened in your past, the person you are today is the cumulation of all your past experiences.
Don’t dwell on the past. What’s done is done. You can’t change it. However, you can alter its meaning.
In my traumatic drowning story, I could have easily let that incident haunt me forever. It would have held me back to become a better swimmer.
But instead of letting it control me, I chose to let my past motivate me. I took the necessary steps to improve my swimming skills. As a result, now I enjoy being in the water.
My questions to you are:
- What past events would scare you if someone else knew about it?
- What happened in past are you not willing to share with others, even your closest family members and friends?
- How can you use your past as a catalyst to transform and improve your life?
There is a specific reason for everything that has happened in your life. It’s entirely up to you in how you want to define it.
You can either:
- Let your past defeat you, or
- Let it propel you to make a positive change.
You can become a victim of your circumstances or a fighter who will rise above your challenge.
Which one is it going to be?
The second option will empower you to drive forward.
Find The Motivating Lessons In Your Past
All external events are neutral, including death. That’s because life and death are a natural part of life.
It’s the level of attachment and meaning that you give to any event that makes it positive or negative.
For example, if your house was burned down by a fire, you would feel furious. However, if your friend’s house got burned down instead, you wouldn’t nearly feel as angry.
Why is that?
It has to do with your level of attachment to the house; it dictates the meaning which you give to the house.
You might view the burned house as a tragedy because you lost something you value dearly.
However, if you choose to see the event with a positive light, such as the opportunity for you to start traveling or relocate to a new city. You’ll feel much more at peace with your house getting burned down.
There’s always a lesson beneath every external event. It’s up to you to find that wisdom.
Viewing life with this perspective, you’ll start to understand that life doesn’t happen to you, rather it happens for you.
You’ll find the invaluable knowledge in your misfortunes. As a result, you’ll learn and ingrain those powerful lessons.
We may not be proud and grateful for all of our past. There are probably numerous things we wish we could redo. However, no matter how much we would like to, we can’t change what has happened.
Just like we celebrate our past successes and victories, we must also embrace all the failures and setbacks.
It’s in those struggles and challenges that we learn the most. Those mistakes teach us not to repeat the same errors again. As a result, we become wiser by making better decisions in the future.
Despite not being pleased with certain events in your past, you have the choice to acknowledge them and change their meaning. Afterwards, you can use those hardships to propel you forward: To overcome your fears and to become a better man.
The new meaning which you give to your past is the catalyst that will accelerate your growth for success.
Make peace with your past, alter its meaning, and let it empower you to live a better life.
Please share this article with anyone who you think may find it valuable.
If you have any questions and/or comments on embracing your past, please leave a comment below or send me an email.
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