Getting unstuck – Let go of the past and focus on the future

Our thoughts determine how our life looks like.

We are all confronted with circumstances outside of ourselves that we can’t control: The weather, our past, others and their behaviour, tax regulations, a pandemic, the price of a litre of milk, the time it gets dark in the evening, losing our job, the size of our feet, etc.

It’s easy to think that we don’t have power about how our life looks like because of all those circumstances that we can’t influence.

We tend to forget, again and again, that we own the most powerful tool in the world – our mind.

What we think about the circumstances in our life and about ourselves is totally within our control, we are free to choose how we want to think about us and our life.

This is so important because what we are thinking determines how we are feeling, our feelings then fuel our actions which finally create the results in our life.

Our thoughts determine how we experience our life!

But how do we choose our thoughts? And where do they come from?

We have about 60,000 thoughts each day, most of them we are not aware of, they run in the back of our mind, unconsciously and automatically.

The vast majority of our thoughts are past-focused.

Many of our thoughts are ‘recycled’ thoughts from the past – they entered our mind a long time ago and we are re-using them again and again, on default, unintentionally.

This is especially true for the thoughts we have about ourselves.

“Who are you? What are you capable of?”

To answer these questions, most of us turn backwards, we go to our past. We define ourselves and our capabilities by looking at who we have been, what we have done and what we have accomplished (or not) in the past.

We define and build our self-identity based on the past.

Many of the past-based definitions of ourselves are serving us.

    • I always was an A+ student, I am really good at learning new stuff.
    • I always find the right time to change my job to make the next step forward in my career.
    • I am great at ocean swimming. Always have been.
    • I never give up and that’s why I overcome any challenge.
    • I had a tough childhood, yes, and that made me a strong person.

But most of us also have lots of past-focused thoughts that limit our potential and keep us stuck.

    • I’ve always been overweight, it’s just who I am.
    • I’ve never been very fit and active.
    • I was shy as a child already, that’s why I don’t like social events.
    • My father forced me to play the piano, that’s why I hate it now.
    • I tried this three times without any success, it’s just not the right thing for me.
    • I’ve always been a messy person.

Why and how to switch our focus from the past to the future

The past is outside of our control. And it’s over.

Past failures, missed opportunities, challenging or hurtful experiences, negative circumstances – all gone.

So as the past is gone anyway, it doesn’t seem to make sense if we continue to give it the power to influence our present and future in a negative way. 

It’s our choice, we can decide to no longer let the past determine our thoughts, feelings and actions today. And in the future.

As soon as we have made this decision, we can start to take action:

    1. Becoming aware of our past-focused thoughts is the first step. We do thought downloads to get the stuff that we carried along from the past out of our mind by putting it on paper
    2. The next step is to do some mind-decluttering work. We separate the positive supportive thoughts from the self-limiting thinking and decide to let go of the latter.
    3. The final step is to reorganise our mind with intention. We search for powerful future-focused thoughts and practice thinking them so that they can help us move on with our life.

Why we need determination and commitment to focus on the future

Focusing our thoughts, feelings and actions on the future is what allows us to evolve.

As soon as we switch our attention from who we have been in the past to who we want to become in the future, we automatically start to do the things that help us create the life we want to live on purpose.

However, our mind doesn’t like to focus on the future.

Our mind doesn’t want us to evolve. It’s main goal is to make sure that we are safe. It doesn’t want us to change and move into unknown – and potentially ‘dangerous’ – territory. Thus, it is very attached to the well-known past and it wants us to stay where we are, in safe territory.

It’s good to know that our mind will always resist if we decide to focus on the future.

Knowing this helps us to understand why it requires more energy and effort – and therefore more determination and commitment – to think about and plan for the future than to remember and rely on the past.

EXERCISE

This little exercise helps us uncover some of our past-focused thoughts. And then exchange them with new future-focused thinking.

Step 1 – Become aware of the ‘always’ and ‘never’ in your life

Words like ‘never’ and ‘always’ are good indicators of past-related thinking, feeling, and behaviour.

Give yourself 5 or 10 minutes to write down a few sentences about yourself that include the words ‘never’ or ‘always’.

Then pick two or three of those that don’t serve you.

Examples:

    • ‘I always feel responsible for other people’s feelings.’
    • ‘I never manage to finish a task on time.’
    • ‘I’ve always been a messy person.’

Step 2 – Rephrase your sentences using the past tense.

Examples:

    • ‘In the past, I used to feel responsible for other people’s feelings.’
    • ‘I usually didn’t finish my tasks on time in the past.’
    • ‘In the past, I had a tendency to mess up my place.’

Step 3 – Rephrase again, now taking a future-focused approach.

Examples:

    • ‘Nowadays, I know that everyone is responsible for their own feelings. That’s why I can now focus on myself and my feelings.’
    • ‘I’ve decided just now that I am getting better and better at finishing tasks on time.’
    • ‘I am going to become really good at decluttering and keeping my place clean in the future.’

Play around and rephrase as often as necessary, until you find a sentence/thought that expresses your future-focus and makes you feel good.

You can use it to redirect your focus whenever your mind comes up with its stories of the past. And it will, because that’s its job.

Remind yourself, again and again, that it doesn’t matter what you thought, felt, did in the past – that’s out of your control like all the other circumstances in your life.

It only matters what you decide to think, feel, and do now – and in the future.

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free coaching session

How to replace a limiting thought that keeps us stuck

Why we have to find the limiting thought that keeps us stuck before we can get rid of it

If we use mind-decluttering as the process to realise changes in our life – changes in the way we show up and behave so that we can achieve the results we actually want to have – we always start our work by searching for the current thought.

We need to know what we are currently thinking because our current thought causes what we are currently feeling. And, as we know from the Mind-Decluttering Model, our feelings create our our actions (what we do or not do) which finally create the results in our life.

However, we are thinking around 60,000 thoughts each day and most of them run around in our unconscious mind and come up on default – we don’t choose them deliberately, we are not even aware of them.

How can we uncover unconscious self-limiting thoughts?

In the Mind-Decluttering Model the result at the bottom of the model always refers back to the thought line in the model.

Mind-Decluttering Model

So if we struggle to discover our current thought, we can work our way back from the bottom to the top of the model.

EXAMPLE:

Let’s say I want to intensify my exercise-program and have decided to get up at 5 am twice a week so that I can go for a longer run bevor I have to leave the house.

But two weeks have gone by already and I didn’t get up earlier twice a week, I didn’t go for an early run.

I now fill in the Mind-Decluttering Model.

The circumstance line: Part of the new exercise plan is that I get up for an early run two times each week.

The thought line: ?

The feeling line: ?

The action line: I didn’t get up earlier twice a week during the past two weeks.

The result line: I don’t realise my exercise-plan.

So what’s the thought in this scenario?

Looking at the result line, I know that the thought is probably something like ‘it’s impossible to realise the exercise plan’.

And yes, that’s what it is, that’s what I am currently thinking: This is too hard. Getting up so early is too hard. I’ve never managed to get up so early. It’s impossible.

How do I feel when I am thinking these thoughts? I feel exhausted and incapable.

The on-default version of my Mind-Decluttering Model is complete:

The ON-DEFAULT mind-decluttering model

Now it’s clear why I am currently not able to realise my exercise-plan:

I’ve found the cause of the problem, my thoughtwhich means that I am now in the position to find the solution:

I have to find a better thought.

A thought that creates feelings and actions that serve me better in this situation.

What do I need to think about getting up early twice a week so that I feel capable and strong instead of exhausted and incapable?

I experiment with a few ideas of useful thoughts and finally come up with this: Of course getting up early is hard and feels uncomfortable at first. But that’s not a problem. I can do uncomfortable things if I want to. I’ll do this!

Thinking this makes me feel strong and capable. And feeling strong and capable helps me do what I wanted to do: get up early – although it feels uncomfortable – and go running twice a week before I leave to go to work. 

The result? I prove to myself that I can do hard things and realise my exercise-plan!

This is an overview of the final on-purpose model:

The ON-PURPOSE mind-decluttering model

This example demonstrates one of the many ways we can try to find our current thoughts and then a better – more useful and effective – thought.

Yes, applying the Mind-Decluttering Model as a tool to realise desired changes in our life takes effort and time.

But it’s worth it – If we do it properly, the process of letting go of limiting thoughts and moving on with new powerful thoughts always delivers the results we want to achieve.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

What are the changes your want to make in your life? Which thoughts might have kept you from realising the desired changes? Which thoughts could you practice thinking instead?

LET’S TALK:

Take the first step of your mind- (and life-) decluttering journey today.

Schedule your free coaching session

Our obstacle-thoughts are the signposts that guide us to our goals

If we set ourselves a goal – a certain outcome we want to achieve, a change we want to make, a habit we want to create – we need an action plan.

We need to know the steps it takes to get us from here to where we want to be.

Very often our mind tries to make action planning difficult.

We come up with the idea for a goal and we are all in, and then our mind gets nervous and says, ‘Wait a sec. You think you can do this? Are you kidding? There is no way you can achieve this. Just drop the idea and save yourself the disappointment.’

This is a normal and natural reaction of our mind. It’s its job to keep us safe and out of danger. Our mind wants to avoid any risks, that’s why it doesn’t like change and wants to keep things as they are.

It is important to listen to our mind.

We need to become aware of the thoughts that come up with regard to our goal: All thoughts – the supportive ones and also the ones that try to talk us out of pursuing our desired goals.

So, yes, we need to listen to our mind but we always should remind ourselves that we don’t need to follow its recommendations.

We don’t have to do what our mind wants us to do (or not to do).

Our thoughts are just sentences in our mind and they are optional. We can always decide what we want to think.

We don’t have to believe our mind’s objections, instead we can use them to help us define the steps we need to take to achieve our goal.

As soon as we notice all the fearful, pessimistic, critical, judgemental, and other negative thoughts, we can decide to see them not as obstacles on the way to our goal but as helpful signposts that can guide us.

We take a closer look at all the objections our mind offers, and we develop a strategy how to overcome each of them. These strategies then become the main elements of our goal-achievement action plan.

EXAMPLE:

Goal: I want to lose 4 pounds during this month.

Obstacle-Thought Number 1 – Losing weight is hard and frustrating and I tend to quit when things become frustrating.

  • Obstacle-overcoming Thought Number 1 – I expect and accept feelings of frustration to come up. They are part of the process and not a big issue. I am going to be frustrated, yes, and that’s o.k. (It’s better than being frustrated because I weigh too much!)

Obstacle-Thought Number 2 – I tried to lose weight in the past and it never worked out.

  • Obstacle-overcoming Thought Number 2 – The past is irrelevant, it has nothing to do with what I am capable of achieving in the future. I plan to focus on the visualisation of my future self, the person who knows how to lose weight and always sticks to her plans.

Obstacle-Thought Number 3 – I am afraid that I will not stick to the eating plan and that I will feel like a hopeless looser if I fail.

  • Obstacle-overcoming Thought Number 3 – Of course I will fail, failure is part of the path to success. That’s no problem. I’ll learn from each failure and move on with new energy.

Etc.

As we can see in this example, the action plan consists of a list of supportive and powerful thoughts that help us take action whenever our mind comes up with obstacle-thoughts.

The toolbox of helpful thoughts will look different for each of us, even if we pursue the same goal.

We are all unique personalities and our minds are very unique as well. And so are our obstacle thoughts and our strategies to overcome them.

We have to invest some time to listen carefully to our mind, so that we can see our very own obstacle-thoughts.

Then we get well prepared with the help of a well-designed obstacle-overcoming action plan:

We assign at least one strong supportive thought to each obstacle-thought, so that we are well equipped when our mind comes up with objections (and it will!) while we are moving towards our goal.

Now it’s your turn!

  • Choose a goal you want to achieve.
  • Then list all the obstacle-thoughts that your mind will probably immediately offer to you. Don’t push them away, don’t judge them, just take a closer look.
  • Now get creative and start to compile your toolbox of obstacle-overcoming thoughts.
  • And then make sure that you have these supportive thoughts always close by, that you study and remember them every day – so that your mind can get used to them and begins to accept them as your new truth.

You will soon notice that the old obstacle-thoughts lose their power and how your new thoughts help you move forward towards your goal.  


Your future self knows exactly what steps you need to take to reach your goals.

You can rely on her in so many ways, and she’ll also help you uncover and overcome your obstacle thoughts.

Just talk to her. 🙂

How to talk to your future self

How to deal with stubborn negative thoughts – and immediately feel better

A quick solution to disempower negative thoughts

Doing the mind-decluttering work – letting go of self-limiting thoughts and moving on with new powerful thoughts – on a regular basis is the best way to take active ownership of our mind and our life.

Our thoughts – what we think about the circumstances in our life – are so important because they are the cause of everything that’s happening in our life: What we think determines what we feel, our feelings determine how we act (or don’t act), and our actions determine the results in our life.

If we don’t like how our life looks like, or if we want to feel or act differently, we need to find and practice other/better thoughts.

Finding and thinking new thoughts is not always easy and it can take some time.

We have to become aware of what we are currently thinking and then experiment with new thoughts that might be suitable to replace the current thought. And then we have to practice the new thought.

In our daily lives, things tend to happen quickly and unexpectedly.

And it’s our mind’s job to immediately bring up its default thoughts which then cause unwanted and unhelpful feelings, actions and results. If we don’t pay attention and take control!

So what’s a quick solution

if we don’t have the time to redirect our mind toward the thoughts we want it to think on purpose?

When our mind ‘stubbornly’ insists to continue thinking a certain thought, it sometimes can be helpful to agree with our mind (Source: April Price Coaching).

We can decide not to try to prove it wrong in that moment. We deliberately agree to the thought our mind is bringing up – but with conditions!

Rather than trying to think a whole new thought we kind of accept the unhelpful thought, we don’t fight it – but we add a little clause, a little condition to it.

EXAMPLES

Example 1

Let’s imagine you decided to go through a new 4-week fitness program and on the first day in the gym your mind immediately brings up the thought ‘My muscles will hurt. This is really hard!’

Instead of fighting this thought you now add a little thought like ‘it’s o.k.’ or similar:

  • My muscles will hurt. This is really hard! – And that’s o.k.
  • My muscles will hurt. This is really hard! – And that’s not a bad thing.
  • My muscles will hurt. This is really hard! – And that’s how it’s supposed to be.
  • My muscles will hurt. This is really hard! – And I can do hard things.

Example 2

Let’s say you made a booking for a networking event and offered to give a short speech. Now your mind comes up with the thought ‘I am not good at giving speeches, I am going to fail.’

You accept your mind’s point of view but add a little phrase:

  • I am not good at giving speeches, I am going to fail – and I am doing it anyway.
  • I am not good at giving speeches, I am going to fail – and that will help me get better at speaking.
  • I am not good at giving speeches, I am going to fail – so what?

Example 3

Your friend promised to help you with your tax return and then cancels the appointment. Your mind suggests the thought ‘I can’t rely on other people, I am always on my own.’

Adding some words to this thought helps you to get rid of any upcoming (and useless) feelings of self-pity or anger:

  • I can’t rely on other people, I am always on my own – and that’s o.k.
  • I can’t rely on other people, I am always on my own – and that’s good, it makes me independent.
  • I can’t rely on other people, I am always on my own – no problem at all.

Deliberately allowing a negative thought, without resisting it, makes it immediately less powerful and makes you feel stronger and more in control.

Give it a try.

Next time when a negative thought comes up and you struggle to let it go in that moment, decide to allow it and add something that expresses your acceptance of the thought and makes you feel better.

The important thing here is to find a little phrase that is right for you – there is no standard phrase that works for all of us.

Experiment and play around with different phrases and then practice the most suitable so that you can remember it easily whenever you need it.


Our mind is the most powerful tool in the world but we have to learn how to use it, on purpose.

We need to use our mind-decluttering skills intentionally so that we can let go of any thoughts that don’t serve us. Getting a clear mind sets us free to move on with new powerful thoughts. 

The free virtual coaching session offers you the opportunity to experience the power of your mind in a very practical way:

Just pick a topic – anything that’s currently going on in your life – and let’s talk about it.

During our 30-45 min Zoom meeting you’ll gain greater awareness of what’s happening in your mind right now and how this affects what’s happening in your life. Often, that’s all we need to take action and make things better.

Schedule your free coaching session now

Why we shouldn’t listen to our mind if it wants to save energy

Don’t let energy-conserving thoughts get in your way

Our mind’s main interest is to keep us safe and comfortable all the time.

One of its built-in survival instincts is to conserve energy whenever possible.

Thus, when we decide to do something that we assume might be hard or exhausting, our mind’s on-default reaction will be to bring up objecting thoughts.

Our mind automatically overestimates the discomfort involved, underestimates the pleasure and joy we will get from doing the work, and tries to prevent us from spending energy on it.

However, often when our mind brings up the thought that doing something should be avoided because it is too hard and exhausting, the result is actually the opposite:

Instead of feeling tired and exhausted, we feel good and energised and fit and strong as soon as the work is done (and often while doing it).

This is good to know!

We don’t have to listen to our mind all the time

Next time when our brain thinks something is (too) hard to do and tries to make us feel reluctant to do what we decided to do, we can deliberately switch our point of view.

We can decide to focus on the positive results that we expect to get from doing the work. We stop listening to our mind, and we deliberately choose a thought that makes us feel like doing what we wanted to do.

In most cases, we will be glad we did.

Because it feels so good to have positive feelings before we get active and it feels fantastic to experience the positive results which are waiting for us on the other side of the action.

The starting point for all these good feelings, actions and results is a good thought – always.

EXAMPLE

Let’s imagine you made a firm decision to declutter the attic on next Saturday.

You had been postponing this activity for a while.

Now you take the effort to write down your thoughts about it: ‘This is so much work. It will take the whole day and it will be exhausting. There is so much rubbish up there, all that dusty and useless stuff. We should never have bought a house with an attic.’

No wonder that always procrastination had been the winner in this discussion. And now again your mind comes up with ‘No, no, no! This is too hard! It’s a stupid idea to clear up the attic in summer. Let’s do it in winter.’

You tell your mind ‘Stop talking! It’s my turn now!’ and you ask yourself,

‘How would I be thinking about this project if I focused on the positive results?’

Your new thoughts are: ‘It’s really time that we make good use of the attic. It’s so much space and light up there, we might be able to use the attic as a playing room for the kids. And imagine all the good things that are currently hidden under the clutter. I am really curious what we will find there. This will be fun. And we will celebrate the clean attic with a barbecue party on Saturday evening.’

Are you getting excited now? Energised? Determined to get it done?

NOW LET’S GET REAL.

Think about a project that you have been postponing for a while.

As you now know, you have to expect your mind to object. And that’s o.k., it’s its job.

But this time you decide that you no longer want to listen to your mind’s counter arguments.

Now you are taking the lead:

  • The first step is to list all the positive results you expect to achieve.
  • The second step is to make a plan.
  • The third step is to take action.
  • And the final step is to enjoy the results of your work. 😊

Our mind is the most powerful tool in the world but we have to learn how to use it, on purpose.

We need to use our mind-decluttering skills intentionally so that we can let go of any thoughts that don’t serve us. Getting a clear mind sets us free to move on with new powerful thoughts. 

The free virtual coaching session offers you the opportunity to experience the power of your mind in a very practical way:

Just pick a topic – anything that’s currently going on in your life – and let’s talk about it.

During our 30-45 min Zoom meeting you’ll gain greater awareness of what’s happening in your mind right now and how this affects what’s happening in your life. Often, that’s all we need to take action and make things better.

Schedule your free coaching session now

How to reach goals and create positive change in our life – Our future self can help

Taking action to create the life we want is not always easy.

When we decide to make changes in our life or set a goal, we usually feel excited and determined to do whatever we have to do to realise the change, to achieve the goal.

However, doing the work isn’t so much fun in many cases.

We have to be willing to invest time, effort and energy, we might feel uncomfortable and anxious about how to get the work done.

So how can we keep ourselves going if we get stuck, if we feel like giving up and quitting the work, even before it has started or as soon as tough challenges show up?

We can ask our most powerful friend for help and support – our future self.

Download the free guide to your future self now so that you can start working with her towards your goals.

You future self will help you do what you want and need to do.

Together you will develop an action plan that really works. It includes all the things you need to start, stop, or continue doing in order to create the results you want to have in your life.

Start to create the life you want – now.

Fill in the form below and then click ‘I want to get in touch with my future self’: