Why You Need to Face Your Past

“In the quest for plenty, know the paths are many
But few will lead you past the regions where the past is buried”
– Zack Hemsey, Lessons From a Nomad – Listen

If you don’t confront your past, certain paths through life will remain locked forever.

On one side confronting your past is uncomfortable, painful and scary. These are immediate consequences of confronting something you’ve avoided for a long time. Small things you ignored will grow. They can grow so big that you no longer have the courage to face them. But because you have vital things to learn from your past, not confronting it will lock certain paths through life.

To unlock these paths you need to face your past. But, because of the immediate consequences of doing this, you try to ignore it. Of course, this doesn’t work. Your conscience won’t let you ignore your past. Old memories will frequently appear in your thoughts and remind you that you try to ignore them.

On the other side, confronting your past can liberate you from it. By facing your past you can make peace with your fears, past failure, and bottled-up rage. Instead of letting them fester in a dark corner of your mind you can confront them and learn from them.

You can learn what happened, why it happened and how you can prevent something similar in the future. This is what reoccurring memories of the past are for: learning how to prevent something similar from happening again.

Once you did that, your past will leave you alone. As a result, new paths open up. Paths that you were afraid of will no longer scare you. Rage and anger will turn into empathy and reoccurring memories will disappear. You will finally find peace.

Try to lock away your past and it will haunt you forever.
Face it and learn from it to unlock new paths through life.

How To Take Stock of Yourself

Taking stock of yourself is a tool to become more self-aware.

Self-awareness is important for understanding the reasons for your behavior.

You think you understand – but do you?

How often do you tell yourself what you want to do and fail to do it?
Why does this happen all the time?
You don’t know.

Your unconscious decides a lot of what you do. You think, act and live the most part of your life on autopilot. Habits, past-experiences, and cultural norms influence your life in ways you don’t fully understand.

One goal of taking stock of yourself is to become aware of your unconscious acts and thoughts. This way you can decide if you want to change something and if so how.

To take stock of yourself: detach, observe, record, evaluate and decide.

Detach. Pay attention to yourself, like you are watching someone else from the outside – as if you were a stranger.

Observe. Watch yourself over time and notice how you act and what you think. Notice why you act or think that way, but don’t judge yourself.

Record. Write down what you observe to arrive at an objective and accurate assessment of yourself.

Evaluate your assessment and understand the underlying reasons for your behaviors. You will find patterns, habits, and values that you were unaware of.

Decide what to do next. Double down on your strengths, end a bad habit or abandon a belief that no longer serves you.

Because this is a neverending process, you can improve ad infinitum.
Just be careful, not to lose yourself in this process and take action as a result of your decision.

Small Sins Lead to Catastrophes

We tend to assume that as long as we avoid obvious bad outcomes, we’ll avoid catastrophe. This assumption is wrong.

Catastrophes are often a result of a small sin repeated over time. You don’t die because you ate a bar of chocolate once. You die early because you’ve been eating many bars of chocolate over a longer period of time.

We tend to brush off small sins and label them “exceptions”. While this may be true at that moment, we are also aware that exceptions quickly turn into habits that stick. They become our lifestyle which increases the likelihood of a catastrophe.

Small sins repeated over time lead to devastating catastrophes. It’s the Compound-Effect accelerated in a negative direction. Eating a bar of chocolate once isn’t too bad. Missing a workout once isn’t the end of the world and sleeping late on a Friday night isn’t a huge deal either. But eating a bar of chocolate, missing a workout and not sleeping enough in two days? That’s bad.

Often, it’s not one poor decision that leads to a catastrophe. It’s the many small sins accumulated over a longer period of time that lead to catastrophes.

To prevent catastrophes, resist small sins.

Why you Should Care About Realizing your Potential

If you don’t, you won’t be able to deal well with the tragedies of existence and the catastrophies of life. You won’t be armed with the knowledge, the skills and the strengths that you know you could have. You won’t be able to go to bed in good conscience, knowing that you didn’t live your day to the fullest. Worse, you will set yourself up for regrets once you’re older and closer to death.

Worst of all, if you decide against realizing your potential, you will choose alternative ways to spend your time. You’ll play video games, eat junk food and waste your precious days amidst a flurry of expedient options.

This hurts you – short term and long term.
But, worse than that, it will hurt the people closest to you as well. All your flaws and insufficiencies cause unnecessary suffering to the people you love the most. As long as you don’t address them, you will continue to cause this suffering in the future – maybe for the rest of your life. In small and big ways, your decisions to waste your potential lead to precisely that suffering which you could have prevented. Multiply this by the millions of people that you will connect with over the course of your life and you see how much it matters to realize your potential.

Think about how much unnecessary suffering you could reduce, now and in the future. Think about how much more you could be, in all facets of life.

That’s why you should care about realizing your potential.

If you stop…

… you deteriorate.

There is a temptation of taking it easy once we’ve made progress. We think we can hit pause, take a break and pick up where we’ve left off.

More often than not, this is wrong.

While you can and should take short breaks, you should never stop making progress on what is most important to you for long.

If you stop, you…

… lose progress.
… forfeit future progress.
… make it harder to start again.
… build competing habits.
… weaken your positive identity.
… make it more likely to miss a good opportunity.
… make it more likely to become sidetracked.

Invert for progress.

If you keep going, you…
… keep your progress.
… make further progress.
… make it easier to keep doing it.
… reinforce your most important habits.
… reinforce your positive identity.
… are ready to take advantage of opportunities.
… reduce the risk of sidetracking.

Keep going and stay on the Meaningful Path.