The past is no longer real. It went away along with whatever happened – good or bad.
Once you accept this, you no longer need to be controlled by what you did in the past and can begin to create a new past for yourself – whatever you do now is going to be your future past.
I first noticed this when, after not wearing ties to work for three years, I started wearing ties again and three weeks later someone commented on how I always wear ties. In the long term, that wasn’t true, but in the recent past, it was, and that is now how the person saw me.
What do you want your past to be? What would you like to have go away? What would you like to have people say you “always” do?
It is important to understand that most other people do not spend their time keeping track of what you are doing, and how often. When they think of you, they recall the recent past, and that is how they see you. Cut your hair short and soon it will have always been short. People won’t think of you with long, flowing hair, because that’s not you.
This frees you to start doing things differently and creating a new past for yourself.
It also works the other way. Unfortunately, it affects all the good things as well. Your major accomplishments will start to fade from people’s memories over time – hence “what have you done for me recently?”
This became painfully obvious the day I heard someone say, “John Lennon? Oh, yeah, he’s Sean Lennon’s Dad.” Not one of the people who revolutionized music, or even that “Beatle guy,” but Sean’s dad.
Decide who you want to be. Start being that person now. Make that your new past, and soon enough, people will accept you as that person … including you. Don’t let yourself be defined by the mistakes and failings of the past, be defined by what you want to be – become that person for yourself.
The past is only a thought, and we can only hold one thought at a time, so make it the thought about who you want to be. Let go of the past you and be the you that you want people to see.
And don’t get frustrated if it takes a while for everyone to see, they will hold on to the old you until they see that you are not that person anymore and, soon enough, you will always have been the person you are now - and the rest will just be a memory.