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We can't fear the past. Fear is a future thing. And since the future's all in our heads, fear must be a head thing.

Tom Payne

Life Coaching

Building Focus, Energy & Courage - to Make a Better Life for You

Does Your Past Predict Your Future?

Whether you think it does,
or you think it doesn't
- you're probably right...

One of the major barriers to personal change - to personal growth - is the impact of our experience on our enthusiasm.

If you've spent the last 8 years failing to find your life partner - isn't is reasonable to assume that it's not going to happen - or at least - that it's going to be horribly difficult and something to be feared?

This is precisely why many people are skeptical about the idea that they can have the life they want, and they see those that say differently as opportunistic charlatans.

This was brought home to me just yesterday by my friend, who emailed me saying (I paraphrase):

Trapped by your Beliefs?
Trapped by your Beliefs?

I don't think it is irrational to be pessimistic about the future. I am pessimistic for good reasons - I've lived through a lot of stuff not working out! I don't have the job I want, nor the man I want. It seems just logical to conclude that the future holds more of the same.

Do you feel this way? I know I have done. Let's tackle this head-on. Here's what I said to my friend, whose name I've changed to protect the skeptical ...

I said:

This is one almost everyone struggles with - me included. If DECADES of your life have told you something about the world - isn't it likely to be bl**dy true?? Well, yes it is - but there's a twist.

This is at the heart of personal growth. Tony Robbins says:

"The past does not predict the future
- unless you live in it".

That last part - "unless you live in it" is the key - because we all do. Couple that with another favourite quote of mine:

"If you keep on doing what you've always done,
you'll keep on getting what you've always got".

So - if you continue to be the Sarah you were last year, then you can and should expect that this year will be pretty much the same.

If you look back at your record of pulling men, or whatever you're interested in, then it's actually REASONABLE to expect the same record for the future - IF (this is the key) IF you do now, what you did last year.

So the plan should be to do things differently.

Understanding that is an essential step forward, but it's depressingly not the whole solution.

For example, I now know exactly why I've struggled in some situations. I know where my outlook came from, and intellectually, I accept that it is all an irrational mistake. And I also know which behaviours I should get rid of and which new ones to acquire.


I'm making progress but this is really hard to do.

So you and I both have to find ways to do stuff in the real world which is not what we would normally do, and there are a variety of methods available.

But key to them all is that you have to be willing to leave your comfort zone and move into the "stretch zone".

This is the ONLY zone where personal change happens. If you feel you want to do something, then you're in your comfort zone - which is the wrong zone! You have to do the things you don't want to do.

Examples of being in your stretch zone might be:

a. Wearing things which are just "NOT YOU" - after all, we want to change some aspects of what being you means

b. Wearing your hair in a different style

c. Taking up an activity which "people like you" don't do (but a part of you likes the thought of)

e. Smiling at people you don't know (yet)

f. Doing things which might develop into opportunities - MAKING CHANCES

g. Having your photo taken and hanging it on your wall (well into the stretch zone, I imagine)

h. Organising a trip with your friends

i. Being the one that ASKS - not just the one who waits to be asked.

Changing Ourselves is Difficult

Making change like this is difficult - that's why 99.9% of us never do it through choice. The major changes are thrust upon us - like serious illness, divorce, being fired, etc. But it's important to accept that this is all in our heads, and so in principle - in our control.

Leon is Leon [Leon is a fun-loving, outgoing guy we both know] because of what's in his head - not because of the shape of his body or his face or his height. Jackie is Jackie [Jackie is quiet and unhappy] for all the same reasons. And similarly with you and I.

So your pessimism, as you look into the year ahead and lament that you may never meet Mr. Right is in this same area. There is nothing external about Sarah which prevents her having a nice relationship with a nice man. She's a cutie and a nice person. Of course, I realise you KNOW better. This is the "mistaken certainty" which is heard about so much in the coaching world.

One other thing from the NLP world. "Re-framing". If you want this change, then you'll have to work on it.

You can choose to see it as a never-ending, doomed-to-failure, pointless, painful, but-there's-no-other-game-in-town struggle until death. Or you can choose to see it as a brave new adventure which could be intrinsically enjoyable, and during which wonderful things can and will happen (as well as a few bad ones, as we both now know). In practice, I guess you'll see it as both at different times; you could try to see it in the second frame more often.

And you can choose (to some degree) to look forward more often than you look back (at your recent relationship break-up, for example).

This is where the quote from last week comes in for me:

"Don't wish the world were easier,
wish that you were tougher".

If all this sounds annoyingly smug and trite then I understand. It's been a long journey for me to come to understand that we invent our own worlds, then we go and live in the world we invented. Even when we hate it. We have the power to re-invent a better world, then go and live in that.

It is *SO* not easy to do, and virtually impossible to do alone. But it most certainly can be done, and I for one, am in the process of doing it - for myself and for my clients.

Sure - it's a lifetime's work, but maybe that's what your lifetime is for, and anyway - it's the best game in town. The other game, by the way, is to accept a sad fate and wait for death.


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