The new year is like a clean slate, a blank computer screen, an empty journal page yet to be filled. For some, a new year is exciting and refreshing, full of potential and possibilities, but others view it with dread. What holds us back, makes us fear, and prevents us from moving forward with joy and confidence?
Simply put, the past.
So many are shackled to what has already happened, immobilized by chains of fear, anger, hurt, low self-esteem, and regret. They can’t look ahead because their focus is behind. Is it possible to shake off what ties us to a backward-looking mentality?
Here are some ways to start:
Get over yourself – I had a friend in college who had no hesitation about looking you in the eye and telling you to “get over yourself” if you were complaining or lamenting a decision or situation. The first time he said this to me, I was offended, but I eventually came to understand he meant stop being so self-focused and move beyond what you can’t change.
Silence negative voices – Do you remember how cheerleader cheers get in your head and stay there? I still recall every word of high school cheers, and they weren’t always positive. “Whup’em up the side’a the head, hey, whup’em up the side’a the head, hey, hey, hey…” Maybe you grew up with a negative cheerleader in your life, a person who took every opportunity whup you up the side’a the head, to criticize, point out failures, and never spoke words of encouragement or support. Or maybe you married a negative cheerleader or work with one. No matter who that person is in your life (and it may be you!) learn to silence those negative voices. Create your own positive cheers. Remind yourself of what you have accomplished. Surround yourself with encouragers and silence the voices of the past.
Let go of regret – We’ve all made decisions we regret, said things we wish we hadn’t, failed to say things we wish we had, and ignored opportunities that could have enhanced our lives or careers, but regret is a waste of energy. We can’t change what’s in the past, but we can move ahead with greater discernment and perception.
Forgive – One of the most powerful deterrents to moving forward is the inability to forgive. Unforgiveness ties us to the person we refuse to forgive. It causes us to rerun hurts and plot revenge. Failing to forgive holds us captive, festers into bitterness, and hurts us much more than the person we refuse to “let off the hook.” But in choosing to forgive, you give yourself a gift, and free yourself to move on.
Visualize possibilities – Can you catch a vision of what might be ahead for you if you silenced negative voices, forgave, stopped regretting, and focused outward? Some don’t see the necessity of visualizing possibilities, setting goals, and putting a plan in place to implement those goals, but we are reminded that without a vision, people perish. ( Proverbs 29:18) While this may not mean physical death, it certainly can mean emotional, mental, and spiritual death. Don’t allow the past to rob you of the present, and the future. “Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14 NET)