It’s okay to feel stuck sometimes. Life can be challenging, and there are days when you just don’t know how to move forward.
Why do you feel that way?
Well, part of the reason could be the impact that your history or past relationships have on your present. It’s hard to let go of experiences, especially when they’ve turned our worlds upside down.
The problem is that you might not even be fully aware that you’re allowing your past to influence your ability to move forward in life. When self-doubt stops you from seeking new experiences or you can’t move on after being hurt, these could be some of the 7 warning signs your past still controls your future.
If you want to gain clarity so that you can make positive choices to regain control of your life, let’s start by looking at the following warning signs.
1) You compare your past to your present
Whether we have good or bad experiences, taking time to reflect on the decisions we make in a particular situation or relationship can help us plan for the future.
But if you’re always reminiscing about past relationships, career moves, or achievements, there’s no way that you can make helpful decisions in the present or for your future.
When we go through challenges, it’s easy to look back and think about better days; however, it should never be used as a constant reminder of what you had or lost.
For example, you can spend years blaming how you were raised or the betrayal of a friend for not reaching your life goals or not settling down in a relationship.
Using these memories to define your present will ruin your future. By comparing your past to your present, you can never appreciate what you have today or how far you’ve come after a bad experience.
It hinders your attempts to live confidently and reach your potential because you haven’t made peace with your past.
2) You struggle to accept change
When you live in the past, it becomes impossible to accept change. It’s easy to hold onto things that are familiar, even if they’re not necessarily good or healthy, because they’re comfortable.
What’s the downside?
If you stay in a place that’s comfortable because it’s what you’ve known, you’ll always be hesitant to pursue new opportunities. It stops you from growing and robs you of experiencing new and rewarding adventures that make life exciting.
This can manifest in several ways.
You stay in a relationship that isn’t going anywhere because your partner is your high school sweetheart. Or, you don’t further your studies or pursue a new job because you’re too scared to move to another location.
Comfort and familiarity cause you to become stuck. You settle into toxic relationships, you stay in a job you don’t like, or you don’t actively seek opportunities that could be life-changing.
3) You hold onto anger
You’ve been hurt in the past, and to protect yourself, you’ve put your walls up so you allow very few people in. At the same time, you’re highly sensitive or easily triggered, and to be honest, sometimes you’re terrible company and push people away.
Anger is a normal emotion, but when you hold onto anger and bitterness, you cannot experience the good things in your present and future.
Anger drives the need to be validated, so instead of focusing on constructive ways of resolving a problem, you find yourself arguing and looking for closure or support.
“I didn’t deserve that!”
“How could someone treat me this way?”
No, you didn’t deserve rejection, betrayal, and unfair treatment, but if you keep replaying the negative events from the past in your head, they will always have power over your future.
Do you really want the people from your past to continue to influence your life? If you hold onto anger, you cannot think about your future because you can’t heal from the past.
4) You have self-limiting beliefs
Things happen in life, whether in our childhood or adulthood, that leave us feeling insecure or like a failure.
I recall being the target of a classroom bully. It was never physical but just a barrage of criticisms and nasty comments that led to a ton of self-doubt as a young adult.
When it came to making important decisions about my future, I felt that I couldn’t pursue certain paths because I wouldn’t make it. I thought I wasn’t good enough.
A lack of self-esteem and unresolved insecurities from our past lead to self-limiting beliefs that we can’t achieve our goals or overcome difficulties. It stops us from pursuing opportunities that would otherwise challenge these limiting beliefs and perceptions.
Do you tell yourself…
“I’m a failure,” “I’m not good enough,” or “I don’t belong.”
If we remain in a cycle of self-doubt or constantly have a defeatist attitude, we never reach our true potential.
There’s no way to change the past, and it’s something that you have to accept. What you can change is how much weight and meaning you attach to the incident or person. That means forgiving the individual who contributed to your self-belief and forgiving yourself at the same time.
Overcoming self-doubt and low self-esteem is a process, and working with a mental health professional can give you the support and tools that you need to believe in a bright and rewarding future.
5) You feel constant regret
“I wish I could go back and change things. I should have made a different decision.”
Constantly thinking about the mistakes you made or playing scenarios in your head and wishing that things ended differently are signs that you are living in regret.
We all experience moments of regret but eventually move on. If you cannot move forward and dwell on the past, you can’t be truly happy or find peace.
The past is what it is. Many of us would love to go back and change things, but we can’t.
Eventually, your regrets will impact your present life and make it impossible to plan for your future. It can leave you feeling hopeless and affect healthy decision-making.
Don’t underestimate your inner strength. You can make better choices today that will help you create a hopeful and meaningful life.
6) You focus on failure more than success
No one wants to fail, but it’s a part of life that teaches us how to be more successful in the future. When you constantly experience or perceive failure in your life, it leads to self-doubt and feeling depressed about your situation.
The people you consider successful have also failed at some stage in their journey. Mistakes aren’t meant to keep you down but rather to create awareness about how you can do things differently.
Improving yourself and your situation means trying, and that includes stopping yourself from overthinking and getting up after failing, even if you have to take baby steps.
If you’re focusing on your failures or shortcomings more than your successes, it’s possible that you’re letting your past affect your future.
Think about it differently.
Failing and overcoming challenges build strong character. It requires determination and believing in yourself so nothing can hold you back.
7) You struggle to forgive and forget
There’s no doubt that people can be cruel. Friends, family, and life partners can hurt you, and even if you accept their apology, you can’t let what happened go.
I want you to remember this.
When someone hurts you, you don’t have to forget what they did; you just need to forgive what they did. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re giving the other person a pass or thinking that what they did was fair. It is about releasing the negative emotions and thoughts that you’ve harbored towards them.
If you can’t let go of something that happened to you, you will continue to carry anger, resentment, and heartache. These feelings from past situations can affect your ability to develop healthy relationships.
Let’s say that you’re seeing someone new, and they’re running late for your date. You feel upset about it, but you can’t let it go. You might even overreact when they arrive because you think they will hurt you. Small things become big things.
When you have the courage to forgive someone, you are saying, “I free myself from the negativity and toxic thoughts that are sabotaging my future.”
Past regrets, betrayal, or self-doubt make pursuing personal goals and healthy relationships nearly impossible.
Sometimes, we hold onto events from our past because we don’t know how to let them go or because we want to protect ourselves from experiencing bad things.
Unfortunately, these patterns and ways of thinking hold you back from seeking a new job, a new relationship, or rewarding ventures that would bring happiness and fulfillment into your life.
Once you recognize the warning signs from your past, don’t allow them to continue to negatively influence you. Only you can make healthy decisions today that won’t sabotage your tomorrow.