When I’m giving advice to some of the inmates I talk to on a daily basis the hardest part of keeping them positive is convincing them that their situation is controllable. It’s giving them the confidence to believe that as soon as their mindset changes the bars disappear.
The prisoner’s I’m talking about are in a different kind of cell then the one you might be envisioning right now. My prisoners are in a cell called “The Past”. It keeps them from enjoying the present or looking forward to the future.
The inability to move on confines them to their cell. The irony is they have the key. There is no warden locking them in, or guards with shotguns patrolling the yard. At any point in time all they have to do is walk out, but the past has a way of luring them back in. It makes them remember how things use to be, and what their lives were like before the hard times. Years go by and there they sit in the same cell.
You can’t grow in the present if you’re still stressing about the past. Letting go is one of the hardest things for us to do as human beings. We’re like emotional hoarders. We hold onto broken relationships, broken dreams, past failures, past successes, past adversities, and the list goes on. At some point we have to ask ourselves, how will worrying about back then help me right now. If we’re truthful with the person we see every day in the mirror the answer is an easy one, it won’t.
Because of all the negativity in the world there are millions of cellmates available. All you have to do is sit down next to someone on a plane or a bus and say hello. At some point you’ll start to hear their story about how great life “used” to be. I’m always confused when people talk to me about the past like their not alive right now. Why not generate those memories in the present? Why not being successful now? The glory days can start today.
The one thing that holds true about the past is, the older we get the foggier it gets. The fifteen-point game you had in the playoffs now becomes the thirty-point game you had in the championship. We tend to forget that maybe things weren’t as great as we recall. It’s tough to get ahead while looking behind you.
Don’t be a prisoner of your past be a product of your present.