Yesterday Does Not Define You

istock_000002301808xsmallIn the 8th or 9th grade I wasn’t the best student. At times my grades weren’t all that great and my behavior in school wasn’t either. I was never the type of student that was always in trouble, but I was always struggling to find my place amongst all the other teenagers who were just as lost as I was.

Often times I would find myself trying to do things to try to fit in. Things the popular kids were doing, such as not caring about grades and caring more about being respected and feared over being respected and respectful.

Sometimes I would do things that I didn’t understand, which I am sure many of us can attest too, especially when we were teenagers and our hormones were raging and our still developing brains were still trying to come together.

This would often lead to be being unhappy with myself for one reason or another. I would be unhappy with my grades which often barely straddled C’s and more closely D’s. I would find myself unhappy with the way I dealt with certain situations, rather it was bullying other people or getting bullied. Emotionally I was all over the place. Sometimes depressed, sometimes angry, but never truly happy for long.

It was during this time that I realized that every Monday I had a chance to start over. To almost be, or at least try to be, a totally different person than I was the week before. Maybe last week I got detention, was mean to one kid or allowed another kid to make me afraid to walk down the hall. Maybe the week before I wasn’t the best student, but every Monday gave me an opportunity to try to do better, to start over.

That was always such a relief, such a refreshing feeling, to know that I did not have to be the person that week that I was the week before. That I could start over fresh. And that’s how I started to get better, as a student and as a person, by starting over one week at a time, trying to do better each week and not letting the previous week define me.

It wasn’t until later in high school that I realized I could use that same technique, that same mental reset everyday. I didn’t have to wait until Monday. If I had a bad day today, I could start fresh tomorrow. Eventually, and I think I was a senior in high school or maybe in college when I realized every hour I could start over. If I had a bad morning, that didn’t mean the rest of my day had to go bad. If I had a bad moment even, I didn’t have to dwell on it and let it define my day.

That is one of the great things about life, that we can start over everyday, every moment if we really wanted to and learn from our mistakes. We don’t have to dwell on yesterday. We don’t have to let yesterday or 2 minutes ago define us. We can learn from those mistakes and move on.

By using that technique way back in high school, my grades and behavior improved. I became an overall better person, more in touch with myself and not depending so much on others, or the mistakes of yesterday to define me. I still use that technique today, albeit, sometimes as an adult it is harder to remember and actually do, but when I do it, it is just as refreshing to know that I don’t have to stay stuck in the past.

We are not our past and yesterday does not define us. Too many people get mentally and emotionally stuck because they let their past define who they are and they don’t realize that they can break out of that rut by simply trying to do better, to do something different, to have a different attitude or to try to take on a different perspective.

Sometimes that is easier said than done, but once you learn how to “reset” your life, it’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself, each and every moment.

Acceptance

leisure-woman-mdnI’ve learned a lot from counseling other people and personal experience that a lot of anxiety and grief comes from refusing to accept reality.

A lot of times our perceptions or what we want things to be are out of line with reality. When we fight against that and refuse to accept to see things the way they are, it can create a lot of anxiety, depression, anger and neurotic behaviors. Ignoring reality keeps us stuck and doesn’t allow us to move on so that we can create and live a better, happier life.

We sometimes get stuck in relationships with partners, friends, and family members that need to be ended or at least changed in the way we deal with those people. Being in a relationship with an alcoholic for example, who refuses to stop drinking, while you hold on to the ideal that one day they will stop, will only disappoint and hurt you over and over again.

You have to see the person for who they are. That doesn’t mean you leave them if you don’t want to or stop trying to offer them help, it means that you align yourself more with reality so that everytime you find that person drunk you don’t take it personal and maybe it means you put more responsibilty on that person to attain sobriety instead of on yourself to do it for them. This will not only take a tremendous burdan from you, but it will also allow you to step back and see the situation more clearly.

The same goes for any relationship, including work.

Sometimes at work we make ourselves miserable, wishing things were different instead of accepting the reality of the way things are. By accepting reality, we can choose to either adjust to it so that we are able to maintain our sanity and a sense of accomplishment or we can decide that this particular job isn’t working for us and we need to move on. That’s what accepting reality does, it allows us to move on in little or big ways from situations that are not working for us.

Most of us don’t like change or for things to end, but often these things are necessary. Sometimes you have to leave one job to find a better one, or change the way you relate to a family member in order to have peace of mind. Beginnings, middles and ends all have their places in our lives and we can’t be afraid of them.

For example, few months ago I was hesitant to enter a new relationship becasue I hate beginnings and endings. I don’t like the feeling of having to “sell myself” or for someone to “sell themselves” to me, and I definitely don’t like the end of relationships. I prefer the middle, where everything is comfortable and stable and all the nuiances of the beginning have already been worked out, but no ending is in sight. However, you can’t get to the middle without the beginning so I had to accept that and I am glad I did as it has allowed me to not only get to know a wonderful person, but to explore myself and the way I am in relationships so that hopefully this relationship will have no ending.

Not accepting things can make us stay in dead relationships and jobs way too long out of fear of the unknown, and sometimes that is okay. Sometimes we are not ready or strong enough to make the change needed and we need some time to build our strength. This is not something to beat yourself up over because change takes preparation and when we are ready, when we feel strong enough, we will make the change necessary. No one can tell us when we are ready, but we’ll know. As long as we are accepting the reality of the situation, we will know when the time is right to make change.

Every real relationship we have, job we have, place we go has lessons for us to learn and once we’ve learned those lessons, it is often time to move on or to change something about ourselves. Making changes takes courage and faith and the ability to let go of fear, something I personally have to work on. We have to know that while change can be difficult and scary, we will be okay.

I personally believe that our lives are carefully and lovingly planned and that all of us are right where we are supposed to be. We aren’t off track or a mistake. We are currently, at this moment, right where we are supposed to be, with the people we are supposed to be with, for one reason or another. Each step is a lesson and change is usually just a progression of lessons. Sometimes people have to learn to love and be loved. To stand up for themselves. To stop wasting time and money on other people or wasting away at dead end jobs. Everything is a lesson and until we learn what the lesson is through acceptance, we’ll continue to be faced with the same challenges.

Once we’ve learned those lessons, we will be presented with new ones. It’s just the way the universe works.

Not all lessons we have to learn are painful, but sometimes we have to go through those painful lessons so that we can get to the lessons that are filled with love and happiness. By accepting reality and where we currently are, even if we don’t like that place, it will help us learn the lessons that situation has to teach us so that we can not only be grateful for them, but also move on.

People who struggle with acceptance usually end up creating a life for themsleves that is full of drama, heart ache, confusion, disappointment and regrets. Acceptance helps us take those lessons and become stronger, smarter and