When I talk to a client that has been through an incredibly challenging time, the first thing they tell me they desire is to go back to who they used to be – or living the way things were. When we are dealing with pain or simply wake-up and realize we’ve been living on auto-pilot, what we most deeply desire is to go back to a time when life was simpler and we were happy.
We want to go back to the days when our heart didn’t ache or our thighs weren’t quite as thick. After being betrayed by someone we love, we desire to go back to the moments when we were oblivious to the betrayal. Returning to a time when we weren’t so stressed and didn’t feel so overwhelmed.
But the thing is, we can never go back to how things used to be.
We can’t turn back time and be the person we were in days of the past. Because we have changed. Challenges and heartache and stress and pain shifts us. And, let’s be honest, too: looking back at the past often is done through rose colored glasses and we gloss over the hard stuff.
But it isn’t just “bad” experiences that shift us from who we used to be.
Sometimes, we get a taste of a new way of living and realize that now that we’ve had a glimpse of how our life can be different, we are unable to go back to life as usual. When you learn alternative approaches to life, then it opens your world. Sometimes, it’s a big event – a retreat, a vacation, a new love. But, it doesn’t have to be a major event that shifts us.
Maybe it’s a single conversation we have with a friend or a book we read. Or we we learn something new about ourselves in the ordinary living of our lives: going out to dinner, a trip to the grocery store, or sitting at your desk doing your job.
Those ah-ha moments, once had, can’t be stuffed back in the box, can they? And trust me, this is a good thing. This means that you are growing as a human being. These are critical moments that spur us to set new goals and pursue new dreams.
Big or small, having an eye-opening ah-ha leaves us feeling uncomfortable within our own skin.
Well, most of the time, even in a what we would judge as “good” changes, we want to go back to how things used to be. We try to “shape up” and “fix” things to go back to how things have always been. We ignore the little niggling that our brain sends us….telling us to lean into the shifts and changes. We discount the way our body tingles at the thought of new ways of living or being.
The truth is, no matter what shifts, we will never go back (exactly) to who we were. It’s possible to appear to go back to “life as usual”, but our soul knows differently. The more we reject or evade the calls of our soul, the more we struggle with the blues and dissatisfaction with life.The more we try to force ourselves into a life that doesn’t feel as if it fits right, the more we set ourselves up for discomfort – and in some cases, just more pain.
You can’t go back to the old you. Because the old you no longer exists. Because your soul won’t let you. It will not allow you to stuff yourself back into a life that no longer fits.
So what CAN you do when you want to go back to the old you even if you logically understand you can’t?
Even when you intellectually understand you can’t go back to the old you, that doesn’t mean you don’t sometimes long for that. And it can be tempting to go down the rabbit hole of trying to recapture that old life. To twist yourself inside out. Comparing the present you to the old you as if you does your old self an injustice.
You belittle your own journey. Rather, it’s important to take the attitude to embrace who you are becoming.
The key to any change in life, of course, is to accept the simple fact that life continues to change and shift. We can’t change the pure fact that over time, our bodies replenish all of our cells. We are always changing physically. We are also always growing mentally and spiritually.
You shed what doesn’t fit. You clear the clutter that’s distracting you. You brainstorm. You clear your head of ideas and swirling thoughts.
Next, rather than long to go back to the old you, choose to embrace what the growth has taught you about yourself.
This is where life can become better than ever. As this gives you the fuel for exploring and distilling the best parts of who you’ve been. And how you want to carry that forward.
- Begin with exploring your core values. What values have always been important to you? And what new values have emerged after life has changed?
- Create a list of everything you’ve accomplished in your life. This allows you to recognize how you’ve thrived after past challenges. And, my dear, it also helps you
- What’s also great about this growth is that it allows you to distill the best parts of yourself and carry that forward. So, make a long list of your best traits.
- Remind yourself of all the beautiful stepping stones to your journey. Some of these stepping stones may seem negative at the time – a divorce, a job loss, and such. Yet, in hindsight, you realize they were key events that made you a stronger, better human being.
Rather than desire to go back to the old you, my dear, the truth is you don’t want to do that. Because you get to honor your journey and embrace who you are becoming. This is the gateway to creating the kind of life you desire to live. Even though there are going to be days that are uncomfortable, it’s worth it. Because you are worth it.
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