One of the best things we can do for ourselves is allow ourselves to grow. However, whether we realize it or not, a lot of us are often afraid to.
Sometimes it’s just easier to remain comfortable than to confront the patterns that keep us from moving forward
and as a result, we can find ourselves in the same places as we began.
But as we begin to shift our perspectives, it’s important we begin to shift our habits as well.
That as we outgrow people, places, and beliefs, we also outgrow the mindsets that no longer work for us
because, while it’s important to recognize how the past has made us into who we are,
there are just parts of ourselves we can’t hold onto forever.
So, in light of 2020, self-reflection, and the transitions many of us are facing in 2021,
here are some toxic traits I’ve recognized in myself, that may be holding you back as well:
Let Go of the Past
1. Stop living in the past
The best part about the past is that it already happened; we know what to expect out of it, and we know how it ends
in other words, there are no surprises, and for that reason, it’s safe.
But whether it be moments we miss, or ones we wish we could change, I’ve found that dwelling on the past just keeps us there.
It holds us hostage to the same mindsets, grudges, and problems,
and as a result, we never let go of those old habits, memories, or relationships.
That’s why, in order to move forward, we must actively decide to move on.
For me, this has meant removing things that trigger nostalgic or painful memories.
This can look like:
- Removing old songs from your music library
- Refraining from cyber-stalking people who used to be in your life
- Letting go of old grudges
- Deleting old conversations and photos with people who you no longer speak to
- Throwing away items that bring back old memories
- Unfollowing people who remind you of the past
- Changing up your environment
Lurking on old friends’ or ex’s social media is not going to bring them back, and reliving old scenarios is not going to change what happened.
No matter how much we may want to hold on to the things that feel familiar,
at some point we must let go and let the past be the past.
2. Stop allowing the past to define you
With letting go of the past, also comes letting go of the versions of us that existed in it.
Sometimes, we can become so caught up in what happened, that we forget we’re not even those people anymore.
In other words, by dwelling on the past, we only keep ourselves small.
But whether it’s an old reputation, things you’ve done, or mistakes you’ve made,
remember that who you were then, doesn’t define who you are today.
You are not the young, naive, or awkward person you were in high school,
and you can’t continue to feel guilty for things you’ve grown from.
While, of course, there will always be past versions of us in the minds of others, remind yourself that you’re in a different place in your life now.
Give yourself permission to move on, and leave that part of you behind for good.
3. Stop rekindling old relationships
The only way to escape the past, is to permanently decide to not go back.
I’m talking about that toxic friend who keeps hurting you, or that ex who has done nothing but play games with you.
Trust me, I know, I’ve been there.
But the problem with going back to people who’ve done us wrong, is that we give them permission to do it again.
As a result, we keep ourselves in the same toxic cycles, preventing us from meeting the people who will truly value us.
So, as much as we may miss the way things used to be, don’t allow history, potential, or loneliness drive you into the arms of the very people who hurt you.
If they are no longer in your life, it’s probably for a reason.
(I talk more about removing toxic people in this post)
Let Go of the Things That Are No Longer Serving You
4. Stop trying to save people
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that people are going to do whatever they want.
You cannot bother yourself trying to save people, and you can’t make others’ decisions your responsibility.
By this I mean that I know how it feels to want the best for the people around you. I also know how frustrating it is when someone just keeps repeating the same old patterns.
But I’ve learned that becoming invested in fixing someone else can leave you drained and disappointed.
So, whether it’s because they keep going back to the same ex, or making decisions that can only hurt them,
remember that the people around you are capable of making their own choices.
As much as we may love someone, it is not your job to fix people, save the world, or be there for everyone, all the time.
Don’t let what others won’t do for themselves, keep you from doing what’s best for you.
5. Stop surrounding yourself with people, places, and things you’ve outgrown
In 2020, time alone has led me to make some hard decisions. Most of which involve leaving people and places behind.
While I talk about growing out of friendships in this post, I’m also planning on switching jobs and cities this year as well.
These decisions have been really scary, but necessary.
Having lived in the same city I grew up in, in the same home I’m used to, I didn’t realize how much I was holding onto for the sake of comfortability.
I think sometimes we remain where we are because it’s familiar, we have history with it, or simply don’t want to let go.
But there comes a point where we realize we can’t keep shrinking ourselves to fit in places we no longer belong.
So whether it’s friends, places, or even objects,
remember you’re allowed to leave situations that are no longer serving you.
While certain things will always have a place in our hearts, you can feel when it’s time for a new chapter in your life.
6. Stop surrounding yourself with people, places, and things that drain you
At the beginning of 2020, I ended a 9 year friendship. Even though we had been through so much together, too much had happened, and we were both exhausted.
The thread of childhood bond could no longer hold together the years of damage,
and that’s when I realized that sometimes, history is not enough.
So, whether it’s friendships that have turned sour, a job you’re no longer happy at, or relationships that have become more work than anything else,
you can’t keep giving so much of yourself to situations that leave you with little to nothing left
This can also include:
- One-sided relationships
- Toxic workplaces/co-workers
- People who unload all of their trauma on you
- People who always seem to be involved in drama
- Negative people
- Jealous friends/co-workers/family members
- People who make you feel less than/inadequate
- People and environments that are emotionally draining
You deserve to be surrounded by people and environments that bring out the best in you,
and sometimes that requires removing yourself from the ones that bring out the worst.
7. Stop feeling bad for making the best decisions for yourself
We often talk about leaving people and places behind as if it’s easy, but we all know that’s not true.
Instead, we’re left feeling guilty, wondering if we made the right decision, or if we should have stuck it out a little bit longer
but at the end of the day, we must make the best decisions for ourselves.
So, despite any backlash you may receive, or withdrawals you may have, remember that you have to do what it takes to move forward and protect your peace.
While growing pains may be uncomfortable, the growth and relief you experience from choosing yourself first is worth it.
Let Go of Limiting Beliefs
8. Stop competing with others
One of the biggest mistakes we make is measuring our success against others.
With social media, and everyone’s accomplishments on display, many of us have not only fallen victim to comparison, but competition as well.
We don’t just wanna catch up, we wanna prove that we can do better.
But the problem with competing with others, is that we often lose ourselves in the process.
As a result, I’m left feeling like I’m not enough, and even more off track than when I began.
So whether it’s someone else’s body, relationship, personality, or achievements, don’t compromise your originality to become a clone of who you think you should be.
This can also look like:
- Comparing your ideas, work, intelligence and/or creativity against someone else’s
- Comparing your looks or body to someone else’s
- Competing for likes/followers/subscribers
- Competing with the popular kid from high-school, an old friend, or a friend you recently cut off
- Feeling jealous/competing with the success of the people around you
- Feeling like you aren’t doing as much as someone else
- Comparing your journey to someone else’s, even if they’ve started before you
Honor yourself, your ideas, and your journey by defining success on your terms. You literally can’t be anyone else, that’s why you should only compete with yourself
9. Stop looking for permission to be who you are
Speaking of showing up for yourself, another way to embrace who you are is to be unapologetic about who you are.
By this, I mean I know how it feels to be afraid to take up space. Especially in the name of humility.
Sometimes we can be so afraid of failure, of appearing too “confident,” or that we don’t actually belong, that we hold ourselves back
but like Elizabeth Gilbert implies in Big Magic, you’re allowed to be here.
So the next time you find yourself experiencing imposter syndrome, remember that you are exactly who you think you are.
You don’t need permission to pursue the dreams that speak to you, and you don’t have to dim your light to make anybody else comfortable.
This can be:
- In the workplace/corporate/leadership roles
- In college/class/academia
- While pursuing your dreams/starting a business
- Anywhere else where you seem to doubt yourself
While it’s easy to want to fit the mold of who everyone else thinks you should be, it’s time you allow yourself to shine, and stop being so afraid of your own potential.
(You can read more about showing up for yourself here)
10. Stop holding on to limiting beliefs
Which brings me to my last point. Everything I’ve mentioned:
letting the past define you, remaining in places and relationships that no longer fit, and keeping yourself from the things you deserve, are all a result of limiting beliefs.
They’ve been acquired through our experiences, the things we’ve been taught, and the ways we’ve been treated,
and we’ve allowed ourselves to believe that they are our absolute truth.
But something I’ve been learning lately is that they don’t have to be your absolute truth.
We are allowed to break away from the constructs we’ve attached ourselves to.
For me, this has meant transforming these beliefs into narratives that fit the direction I’m going,
and letting go of the ones that keep me from moving forward
Because, while the past has made me into who I am, I realize there are just parts of myself I can’t hold onto forever.