Reposted from September 1, 2021
To embrace our future, we must first embrace our past.
I think our pasts haunt us more than they would have a generation or two ago because of the times we live in. For one, we freely share our lives on social media, and the internet has a very long memory. And two, we live in a cancel culture. Things people have said or done in the past make them unforgivable, unwatchable, unloveable. If their past actions or words are counter to what the popular opinion of the time is, they simply must be canceled. And sure, some actions or words may actually be unforgivable and warrant the cancellation, but generally… I think not. Why? The foundation of this logic (or lack thereof) is that we are the same person now that we were whenever we committed past sins.
What a fallacy that is.
We are all constantly evolving – for better or worse. And we all have past versions of ourselves – both good and bad. Speaking of my own past, I can assure you that I am a very different version of Alessia today as a mom, wife, and professional than the version who liked to party in college or the version in Chicago during my early to mid-twenties.
Changing the Goal Posts of the Past
I want to be measured by my growth and contributions to the world and those around me. Not by the past versions that may make me want to hide away. It is worth noting that those past versions also helped shape me into today’s latest and greatest version. I try to find gratitude for my past and to give myself grace and forgiveness when those cringey versions pop up to say hello.
That being said, it can be really easy to cower to the pieces we want to hide and, in doing so, hide the best parts of us, too.
Is Your Past Haunting You?
Past versions being exposed and brought to light can be terrifying and stop us from moving forward. Funny story: I wanted to be in Congress or the Senate when I was in high school. I’ve joked that I’d never be able to make a run for office because there are too many photos of me in college where I’m doing keg stands, floating around somewhere on Facebook . Now, whether or not that’s true is another story, but nevertheless, it’s a story I’ve told myself and bought into.
Past versions can also create imposter syndrome. For example, the goal of this podcast (and what I know my calling is) is to empower women and remind them of the badass they have living inside. And honestly, one of the biggest things that made me hesitate in starting this podcast and stepping into my calling was an old version of me who gossiped and talked shit about other women. My imposter syndrome would say, who are you to be a coach and women’s empowerment champion when you used to talk badly about other women?!
I look back on the version of me who said those things and my first inclination is to cringe. To feel guilt and shame. To tell myself there is no way I can do what I know I’m meant to do because of this skeleton in my mental closet.
But my next inclination is to be compassionate. When I was in that place, I was full of self-loathing. I was hurting inside. And hurt people, hurt people. The things I’d say were PROJECTIONS of my own issues onto others who didn’t deserve it. I’m not saying that makes it okay. But it’s helped me be more compassionate to others who have parts of their pasts that they, too, aren’t proud of and are being held back by.
If we let these old versions of ourselves hold us back out of fear, then we cannot and will not embrace our future or our calling. And that’s not fair to the person we are becoming or those who benefit from our gifts when we live in the light and do it all out.
Honesty Liberates, Even When It’s Hard and Uncomfortable
Leveling with you, I really didn’t want to record this episode. I’m the host of a show that uplifts other women. It’s extremely uncomfortable and hard to admit publicly that there have been times when I was quite frankly, a catty bitch.
This morning I got a sign to speak this into the world. I received a text from a dear friend. Pause this now if you’re listening with kids. Just last night I was telling her that I am so excited to see her step into a place of giving zero fucks. And lo and behold this morning, she sent me a screenshot of a text thread that she woke up.
Here’s what happened. She’s in a group text, and two people forgot she was in it, too. And they started talking shit on her! So she made her presence known and called it out. She sent me their one-off replies. One of the women owned up that she was in a bad place. The apology seemed genuine. Hopefully it was a lesson or light bulb moment that was needed. The other woman wasn’t there yet. She was only sorry she got caught. Again… hurt people hurt people.
So, here is the point. We ALL have said or done things we regret. That we aren’t proud of or that we are maybe even ashamed of. But if you’ve evolved out of that behavior? You need to be kind to that past version of yourself.
WHO’S DRIVING YOUR BUS?
There is a concept I think is very helpful here. I’m going to put my coaching hat on for a moment.
I recently completed a coaching certification with Cayla Craft of Mommy Millionaire and Dr. Jenn Chrisman. There were so many impactful learnings. One that really resonated with me was this concept of the passengers on the bus. This metaphor helps to explain how the past versions of us or past states of being can influence us today.
Let me give you an example. I’ve told you about my strict Italian dad in past episodes. We have a great relationship today, but I grew up feeling controlled and rather powerless… because, at home, I was. If I’m unaware of that version of me – Little Alessia – guess what happens when I feel invalidated, controlled, or powerless now? the inner child longing for control, power, or validation will take the wheel.
When she drives the bus, she might cause me to fall into people-pleasing behavior, to get angry, to be disobedient, or even spiteful. Becoming aware of this pattern allows me to give her what she needs. If I ignore her, she gets louder. When I stop the bus and fight with her (like getting frustrated or mad at myself), I stop moving toward my desired destination. But when I give her what she needs, she gets quiet, and I keep driving to the destination I’ve chosen.
How Do You Embrace the Passengers on Your Bus?
So, how do you embrace your old versions and give them what they need? Think about who you’ve been throughout your life so far. Visualize these past versions of you. Gently and non-judgmentally check in with them. To act the way they did, what were their unmet needs? Go into your mind, visualize your highest self spending time with those past versions of you, and meet their needs now. What that looks like for me is as I heal some of my issues from childhood, I’ll picture my favorite childhood memories. I envision my highest self doing those things and playing with 4-year-old me. Cuddling with her, reading to her, validating her. This may all sound woo-woo, and I realize that different things work for different people, but it’s been a game changer for me.
So remember, the past versions of you are passengers on your bus, and they always will be. Have compassion for yourself and those versions of you. Self-compassion is powerful! Become aware of them. Acknowledge them. Spend time with them.
Be warned: the past versions you dislike will pop up while you’re LEVELING UP. If you’re unaware of them, they’ll start driving the bus, take you on a detour, and find a way to sabotage you.
The Bottom Line
We all have baggage and wounds, and we’d all be a lot better off if we stopped judging ourselves and each other for our past and present.
As the Bible says, let the one without sin cast the first stone.
We all have our shit. And no one talks about it. That is why I am! Trust me, I am still working through many things, and I’m far from perfect, but I’m done pretending I am, and I want you to be done with it, too.
In closing, don’t let your past hold you back anymore. Embrace your past and embrace your future.