The past is set in stone, the present is what you make of it, and the future is full of endless possibilities. In my last two posts, I spoke about learning from the past, and living in the present. The past can’t be changed, but what you take from it can.
Instead of looking into my past and going through all the different things that could have happened, I decided to take what I learned from what actually happened, and apply it to my present. Instead of spending my present dwelling in the past, or worrying about the future, I decided to take a step back and live in the present moment, so that I can set my future self up for success.
At the peak of the pandemic, lockdowns were at an all time high. Everything shut down, except for grocery stores. We were expected to limit our interactions to only the people we lived with. Without the distraction of going into work, or having dinner plans with friends, or even just stepping out of the house on a regular basis, something shifted.
I wish I could say I spent my time intentionally reflecting on the person that I was when all those distractions faded. The reality was that I was forced to go through a phase of uncomfortable learnings and discoveries about who I was. To add to that, as a person with hearing loss, I suddenly lived in a world where everyone was masked, and barriers were placed between people to protect themselves from this unknown COVID-19 virus.
The combination of being almost forced to look inwards, and of struggling to be independent when my way of hearing was challenged led to me peeling away a layer I didn’t know I had, exposing a raw and vulnerable part of me.
For a little while, I was resistant to looking inwards - I didn’t want to face the part of me that admitted that the topic of my hearing loss was a vulnerable one, or the part of me that realized that there were some things that I didn’t quite like about myself.
I spent time dwelling the past, and telling myself, ‘my future will be better. I’ll be a better person in the future. I’ll be more confident in the future’.
At one point down that line of thinking, I stopped. I questioned myself. Why does it have to happen in the future? What’s stopping me from starting now?
I placed too much pressure on the future. Honestly, the future doesn’t deserve that type of pressure. Doing that made me think the future was this vast unknown full of possibilities - where great and terrible things can happen. This is true - no one knows what the future holds. However, I was depending on my future, as if somehow, my future held the key to an amazing change.
That’s not the case. I realized that if I kept thinking of the future that way…things won’t change. Sure, the world will go on, and things will happen in the world, or happen to me, but I, as a fundamental person, will stay exactly the same, doing exactly the same bad habits, or thinking exactly the same thoughts that cause exactly the same feeling of stagnancy. The key to ultimate change lies with me in the present moment.
Instead of depending on the future to be the change I wanted to see, I had to shift my perspective. Now, I ask myself - “what would my future self be proud of?” or “what would my future self think if I keep doing this?”.
By asking those questions, I’ve forced myself to stay in the present, and really look at my actions, and think about how those actions will impact my future self. When I was struggling with the realization that my hearing loss bothered me more than I cared to admit, I wallowed. I wallowed in self pity, and in anger, and in regret that I didn’t realize this sooner, because otherwise I wouldn’t have to deal with this problem right now.
After I did a healthy amount of wallowing, I realized that if I kept doing that, then future me is going to look back and be upset that I didn’t deal with those vulnerable feelings when they came up. Then I would wallow again, and be angry at myself for sweeping it under the rug again. And the cycle would continue.
It’s easy to fall into a pattern where, if you change nothing at all, things will never change. The world will move forward, but you will feel stuck. Now, instead of depending on my future self to change things, I tell my present self that my future self will thank me for making the change right now.
The future is not something to be feared, but something to be excited about. Anything can happen. It’s a promise of new life and new adventure. It’s learning from experiences, and taking those learnings forward to create whatever I want. For me to learn from experiences, I need to create my own experiences.
To do that, I had to let go of any shame or regret that I felt about my past actions/feelings, and accept that I have the power to change in this moment, so I don’t feel that shame or regret over and over again in my future. I had to break free from my self imposed restraints of the past, and embrace the possibilities of my future.
I’m embracing the future in so many ways.
I am trusting that the universe is working for me, even at times when I don’t see it.
I am taking what I learned from my past, and unlearning the limiting beliefs that have held me back.
I am imagining all the different ways I want my future to unfold, and taking small steps to make sure I get there.
I am looking forward with a curious and open mind.
What is one way that you can embrace your future right now, at this moment?