3 Lies Your Heartbroken Past Tells You About Your Future

Don't get stuck in limiting beliefs.

Last updated on Feb 05, 2024

Woman taking photo of herself and the road behind her Dominika Roseclay, Q77photo | Canva

It seems there are a million quotes about letting go of the past — and rightfully so. It’s one of the greatest challenges for people. In my years of substance abuse and recovery, I’ve lived through and witnessed others share some of the most horrific and traumatic stories imaginable. Healing your past is about understanding three things, which will help you unravel the mystery so you can get on with the business of being happy.


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Here are 3 lies your heartbroken past tells you about your future.

1. Your past stories are your babies.

They are stories you created. It’s a living, breathing thing in the ego’s eyes. When we create something, our ego is proud of it like it would be for a baby. Letting go of that story would be like abandoning your child to the ego. Instead, you nurture it and protect it with your life. Have you ever seen a person who is completely angry and nothing can change them? An innocent child can walk up to them, and they’ll push it away to protect their baby. This is the ego protecting its creation.


Mindfulness practices like meditation or journaling can help you see your true self as separate from the ego and allow you to see this for what it is. Once can become the observer of your ego, you begin to find its antics amusing and unimportant.

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2. Your past is always good when you look beyond yourself.

There are always opposing stories for every situation, regardless of the details. You control which story you focus on by the actions you take today. On May 3, 1980, Candice Lightner had a choice when her beautiful daughter was killed by a drunk driver. She could have adopted a victim’s story for herself and allowed it to keep her stuck in her grief for the rest of her life. I know families who have. Instead, she chose to use the emotions from her story and create change in the world by founding Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.).


Since then, her choice and actions have saved over 330,000 lives, and probably millions of people’s lives have been positively impacted through education and counseling around drunk driving and grieving the loss of a child. Was her daughter Cari’s death a good thing? No! It continues to be painful for Candice and those closest to Cari. Was it necessary for hundreds of thousands of other lives to be saved? You be the judge.

When we get to a place where we realize it’s not about us and all about our role or purpose for being here, there are no self-defeating stories, only life experiences to help us along the way. What you focus on expands. No matter what your past experiences are, they are all tools for good if you choose to use them properly.

contemplative woman sits on steps

Photo via Getty


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3. Just because it was true then doesn’t make it true now.

Your past can only tell you what you were capable of as a less evolved person. It can’t tell you what your potential is today or tomorrow. When you get stuck in an adult problem, do you seek the advice of a small child? Would you allow your 5-year-old child to drive you home in your new car? My mom doesn’t even like to let me drive now. This is how we are when we live mindlessly and allow our subconscious to drive. I don’t know how many times a week I get stuck in a limiting belief and pause to ask the question, "Where is this belief coming from?" only to discover that I’m letting a 5-year-old scared boy mentor me.

What good are the years of experience if I’m being directed by a little boy? He can’t do what I can. Any number of other incidents from your past can leave you paralyzed with disempowering emotions and fear to move forward. Anger, shame, resentment, guilt, and regret are just a few of the nicknames for fear. In extreme cases, people will coil up into a ball and never leave their house but for most of us, it’s much more subtle.



Working at a job you hate, staying in a toxic relationship, struggling to get started on getting back in shape, and giving up a destructive habit are all signs that an old story your subconscious mind is telling you is directing your life. Your psychotherapist, your spiritual guide, and your significant other all tell you the same things and you’ve heard them a million times: "Why can’t you just put it behind you and move on? Live in the present moment."


The 12-step programs are based on a "one day at a time" process. Still, the thoughts of all those burned bridges and wasted years continue to haunt you like some poltergeist in your brain. My favorite line is: "Happiness is a choice."

If it’s as simple as making a choice, why would anyone choose to hold on to something that keeps them stuck in a place they don’t want to be? A daily practice can create automatic triggers to alert you each time you get stuck in a limiting belief and allow you to pause and question who’s driving your thoughts and beliefs.

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Greg Boudle is a recovery life coach, published author, and professional speaker.