“The best thing about the past is that it’s over. When people don’t deal with the past as if it’s over, then they’re not free to go into the future.”
~ Richard Bandler – Make Your Life Great
Throughout our day we are constantly talking to ourselves – Yes, THAT voice in our head, the one who seems to be sat pulling all the levers in the control tower of you!
I’m constantly reminded about the awesome power of language and how it influences who we are, what we believe and how we show up in our lives.
One of the great masters, who I once had the honour of learning from, is Richard Bandler. I was reminded of his work this week as I was coaching a client who was struggling in her mind to move away from the past and towards a new future that she was defining for herself.
She’d decided on a direction of where she wanted to go, but the voice in her head kept subconsciously sabotaging her thinking and taking her on a road trip back to her past, rather than to the future where she wanted things to go. Also, the close family around her was saying: “You’ll never change, you’re set in your ways!”
When we set a goal and decide to make a change in our lives our conditioning and internal language is still set on the old default pattern that got us stuck in the first place. As our unconscious thoughts travel down the neural highway, we find ourselves suddenly back in that old place where we used to be and we’re stuck once again in the past:
“History is repeating itself…”
“Here we go again…”
“It must just be the way I am, I’ll never change…”
I love using the metaphor of our neural highway being like a busy motorway or freeway. You can almost see the blur of taillights flowing past you at great speed. It feels overwhelming and fast… Before you know it, you’re in the wrong lane and you’re turning down that old piece of road again: All routes lead back to the past – your old behaviour and patterns of language and beliefs.
We get caught up in old thoughts and loops that no longer serve us.
As my client spoke, her words made me realize that she was going into a behavioural loop; she was becoming anxious and started to become self-deprecating. She became once again, the person in her past rather than the person she now wanted to be.
I asked her to STOP and BACK UP…
This broke the chain… These words opened her to a deeper level of thinking.
We explored her thinking and how it was making her feel. She was frustrated that she was still going down the old road and not catching herself in time. She then described where she wanted to be with passion and enthusiasm.
Then she got clear – She knew exactly what to do…
She decided that this was the last time she was going to take this route. So she mentally installed a ‘Wrong Way – Go Back’ sign on her neural highway slip road (on-ramp) before the entrance of the old highway she was unconsciously turning onto.
She is now watching her language and paying attention so when that old thinking comes along, she has a conscious system to STOP and BACK UP so she doesn’t go the wrong way. She’s now able to follow the new signage of where she wants to go: Happiness ahead. Better relationships – next exit, new career coming – 800 yards!
I helped her create some strategies to back up and reframe the situation, and replace her negative language with positive using the power of her intention.
My client reconfigured her brain with some new language patterns that serve her future and not her past. This shifted her state of mind and made things different so she can keep an eye on where she wants to be. She’s moving forward once again.
The past is what we know and we use it as a compass point, a frame of reference for comparison, whereas the future is unknown. It’s uncertain and we’ve no tangible evidence to support that anything could actually be different or better out there. It’s risky and uncomfortable. But you have two great advocates: faith and courage, if you choose to take them along on the journey with you.
Creating and following a new route takes time and sometimes a little extra support and direction. It’s hard to do it all on your own. The last thing you need is someone with a clipboard standing over you telling you “you’ll never change or it won’t last long – look what happened last time!”
Dwelling on the past keeps you stuck – You’re going the wrong way!
Some people spend years and loads of money in therapy trying to understand WHY the past happened. My philosophy is that learning and growing (and healing) is all about letting go and taking forward motion. Life is fluid and too short to keep using the past as your navigation tool for the future. Create something new; you’ll be surprised how refreshing and exciting the new feelings are that come your way. It sets you free to go into your future!
Sometimes you need a little coaching support to get you started and change the language in your head. This opens you up to a world of infinite possibility.
What do you want behind you and want do you want in front of you?
Watch your language! How is it serving you right now?