Shift From the Past

To Look Toward the Future

Q: I really want to get on with my life, but I can’t stop thinking about my last relationship. I want to stop feeling angry and stop regretting things I have said and done. I also don’t want to be overweight anymore but I can’t seem to keep going to a gym for more than a month. -Sarah


A: Sarah, what you are experiencing is very common. The great thing about our incredible brains is that we can recall things from the distant past and imagine things in the future, but that comes at a price. We have to train our brains to selectively focus on things that will produce what we want, rather than avoiding what we don’t want. This apparent nuance can be so subtle it is easily missed, but will often be the difference between a happy life and a miserable one.


You have said some things that you don’t want (feeling angry, regret, being overweight). My question to you is what do you want? When you become crystal clear about what you want, you will start to see the path to get there, rather than all the same old obstacles that used to be in your way, when you focused on what you don’t want.


So instead of anger, what do you want to feel? Forgiveness, relief or contentment might be options.  Instead of regret, what do you want to experience? Happiness, hope or positivity might be options. Instead of overweight, what do you want to see when you look in the mirror or on the scale? Fit, strong or proud might be options.


Another useful approach is to inject gratitude into what used to be negative memories. A negative relationship can provide the opportunity for growth, for which we can be grateful. We don’t have to be grateful for the person or how they treated us, but learning what we are willing to put up with is something for which we can be grateful. It is often the most desperate situations in life that provide the most significant lessons. Giving meaning to suffering is the equivalent of disinfecting a wound; we can “clean” the memory and create an environment for healing. There may be some “scars,” but they too can serve as reminders of our gratitude for what we’ve learned.


When we make the shift away from the past and put our focus and energy on the future, we can not only imagine something better, we can begin the process of creating a plan and building what we want. Sarah, enjoy the journey towards what you want!


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Combining over 30 years in the field of self-development, Rod is the CEO of the Certified Coaches Federation, one of the largest coach education companies in the world, and a speaker, coach and author. For more information on the Certified Coaches Federation, visit and for more information on Rod, visit  

Categories: Emotional Health & Wellness