How To Let Go Of Your Past So You Can Stop Sabotaging Your Future Happiness

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let go of past to find happiness

“You’ve got one foot in yesterday and the other in tomorrow while pissing all over today.”

I remember the first time I heard these words in a twelve-step meeting. I thought it was kind of funny and kind of spot-on to how I was living my life.

Regret from the past and anxiety for the future are the two greatest parasites known to man.

Re-framing your past can be the one-two punch that knocks them both out, stops the cycle of self-sabotage in its tracks, and ultimately, leads to happiness.

As humans, we seem to have a need for evidence or at least some kind of measuring stick to track how we’re doing along this journey called life. Since the future is… well, the future, so we have no way of measuring it. Instead, we use our past experiences as a reference on how to proceed.

Sometimes it serves us well, and other times it keeps us stuck in self-defeating behaviors. For example, I’ll probably never stick my tongue in a light socket again, because I tried it once and didn’t like the way it felt. 

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But what if I used that same logic around dating women? I’ve had some experiences with dating that make that light socket seem like sucking on a lollipop in comparison. So what’s the difference?

You’ve probably heard of the "pain/pleasure principle." It states that everything we do in life is because we’re either avoiding pain or moving toward pleasure. So why do we continue repeating things that have painful outcomes?

Have you ever wondered why you keep repeating certain behaviors you don’t like? Or maybe you’re not doing certain things you know you should be doing. This is your subconscious doing what you instructed it to do.

In order to protect ourselves from future pain, we create a story from each experience. 

Then, we turn it over to our loyal sidekick, our subconscious, and it does a perfect job of carrying out our instructions. This frees up our conscious mind to do its work of taking in new information.

If we never go back and update our instructions, the subconscious will continue to follow the information we last gave it.

The story I created around dating women had a happy ending. The one around French kissing 110 volts did not.

In addition to our own experiences, we also create stories from information given to us by parents, caretakers, our culture, the media, etc. Information like look both ways before crossing the streetdon’t drink expired milk, and never date a girl who wipes from back to front has been helpful to me in my life. These stories are known as evergreen and never need updating.

But, what about the stories that aren’t evergreen — the ones that need updating as you transition from a boy to a man?

Stories created from information like, don’t talk to strangers and don’t speak until spoken to, may have served me well as a 4-year-old, but as an adult trying to become a successful entrepreneur, not so much. If you’re like I was and you struggle with approaching new people at social events, calling on new clients, or asking a stranger for help, then it’s likely that your old story is past due for a revision.

The problem is, many of us are so consumed with responding to new information from the outside world that we never set aside time to look inward. Ironically, though it’s the inner stories which dictate our responses to the outer world, so it becomes a viscous cycle of rinse and repeat.

So how do we stop this merry go round and start living the life we want?

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The first step to changing anything is creating awareness.

The best way I’ve found to do this is through journaling. At the end of each day, find a quiet spot and reflect on your day.

Start by noticing the things that aligned with your core values and write them down. After doing this, give yourself a little time to celebrate your bad-ass self.

Next, notice the things you said or did that don’t reflect the man you want to be and write them down. After they’re on paper you can look at them and investigate the story you created that’s driving them.

From there you can begin asking yourself, “What’s another story I could create about this that will support who I am today and who I want to be tomorrow?” Then write that down.

After you’ve made your revised edition to an old story, review it every morning like a devout religious practitioner.

Soon you’ll discover your subconscious will begin carrying out the new set of instructions you’ve given it.

We are all in the business of creating. After all, we create our future based on the actions we take today. Those actions come from the stories we write in our own personal bibles.

Your thoughts about your past are not based on facts, but rather the stories you create from those facts. Change your stories, in order to change your life.

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Greg Boudle is a transformation coach for the recovering man. After spending decades as a hopeless addict he rewrote his own life story and transformed his past into the gifts he uses to help others. His coaching program, “Hero’s Journey – Revised Edition” has helped men in mid-life return from the brink of suicide to living happy, fulfilling lives with purpose. To find out more about Greg and his mission visit or as Greg would prefer it, shoot him an email at

This article was originally published at Life Beyond Clean. Reprinted with permission from the author.