Stop Punishing Future You For the Choices You Made In the Past
Stop Punishing Future You For the Choices You Made In the Past

162: Stop Punishing Future You For the Choices You Made In the Past

Is your past self getting in the way of the future version of you?

Perhaps you’re allowing past choices to preserve a defeatist attitude about certain things. Or your past could be preventing you from challenging yourself in transformative ways that can create your future. And the worst part is you might be unaware that you’re punishing yourself in this way.

While the past can’t be changed, there is still something you can do about it. And it starts with an awareness of why you punish yourself in this way, how to recognize the signs, and how to stop so the “future you” can finally unfold.

In this episode of Time to Level Up, you’ll learn about how the past can prevent you from accessing the big thinking you need to move forward. I’ll also give you examples of self-talk that signal you’ve been living in the past unknowingly and teach you how to stop punishing yourself for prior choices.

What’s Covered in This Episode About Punishing Future You

4:30 – Clues that you’re living in the past unknowingly

8:34 – How your emotional childhood impacts your choices as an adult

13:23 – What you can change about the past and the biggest mistake people make with past events

17:42 – Ask yourself this about your past to uncover what’s preventing your access to the future

19:37 – How to get to the version of “future you” that you want

Mentioned In Stop Punishing Future You For the Choices You Made In the Past

Psychology Today articles by Leon Seltzer

Vision to Action Intensive

Runway to Freedom

Andrea on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook

Quotes from this Episode of Time to Level Up

“Lots of people are not able to access big thinking because they are stuck in their past.” – Andrea Liebross

“The past is a teacher, not a fortune teller. It does not have to dictate what is going to happen in the future.” – Andrea Liebross

“I cannot change what happened, but I do have the ability to change my interpretation.” – Andrea Liebross

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160: How to Recognize and Combat Signs of Loneliness In Your Business

Welcome to the Time to Level Up Podcast. I'm your host, Andrea Liebross. Each week, I focus on the systems, strategy, and big thinking you need to CEO your business and life to the next level. Are you ready? Let's go.

Hello, my friends, and welcome back to the Time to Level Up Podcast. How are you doing? What's happening in your world? Let's see what's happening in my world. Well, when I am recording this, I am deep in the process of planning She Thinks Big Live which is happening in January.

When you're listening to this episode, I hope you've either registered for this, you've been to She Thinks Big Live. You can get all the details at if it hasn't already happened. Probably, I will post some pictures at that same web address if it has happened.

In planning for that, I have been thinking about what is big thinking. I've been thinking about that for a while now, haven't I? It has occurred to me that lots of people are not able to access big thinking because they are stuck in their past.

A couple of episodes ago, we talked about what is big thinking and one of my best definitions of big thinking is that you need to access your future you in order to think big. You need to be able to go get that future you. You need to be able to go see who that future you might be. Who are you going to be in a year, three years, five years, who do you want to be? That's the future you and you need to go as that future you what to do today in order to make progress in creating that future you.

But a lot of people can't even get to that place because they are stuck in their past. A lot of people can't even get to big thinking or can't even get to future you because they're stuck in their past. If you're someone that's like, “Oh my gosh, this is so hard for me. I mean, I don't know. I'm just trying to survive here on a day-to-day basis. I've got little kids. I can't do any big thinking. I'm just barely getting everybody out the door and dinner on the table,” if that's you, I want you to think about why is that you can't get there.

A lot of times, it has to do with you being, I'll call it stuck in your past. That's what I wanted to talk about today. Also, if this is you, if you're stuck in your past, then you're preventing yourself from creating your future. I like to say the past is a teacher, but it is not a fortune teller. It does not have to dictate what is going to happen in the future.

If you're too deep in your past, you can't even create your future. It's almost as if you're allowing your past to control your present and future. I did not create a big huge outline for today's podcast. Usually, I create an outline and I really think about how I want to present things. I have thought about how I want to present things but I haven't created an outline so just bear with me being totally honest.

I’m doing a little of this off the cuff but I've been thinking about it and I've been reading about it. I even read some articles in Psychology Today about it. There's a guy named Leon Seltzer who has written some articles about this, and there's a lot out there on it and I wanted to present it to you today.

How do you know that you are living in the past without even knowing it? Now, I get clues on a consult call if someone is living in the past, when they say things to me like, “Well, based on my history, I know that I am just not good at initiating things. I'm really good at planning but I'm not good at following through,” or “Based on the past, I just don't think I can sell to that particular person,” or “Based on the past, my family is going to be really pissed at me if I am out of commission for two whole weekends a month,” or “Based on the past, I am pretty confident that my business partner is going to say X, Y, and Z.”

Really, what's going on there is you are harboring a bunch of defeatist attitudes. You're almost giving up on creating your future before it even happens because of your past. All of those statements that I just gave you there of things I hear people say, they're really insecurities. They're insecurities.

Some of them could be seen as failures like, “Oh, I tried that before and it didn't work.” What these insecurities, failures, or defeatist attitudes do is they keep us stuck and they unconsciously really create some self-doubt in our ability to do things in the future, in our ability to handle situations, in our ability to create what we want.

They also are really holding us back or restraining us from taking on challenges that could be transformative, that could create what we want. Let me say that again, they're restraining us from taking on challenges that could serve us moving forward.

Someone says to me, “Yeah, I tried charging more for something but it didn't work.” Now part of this you could say, “Okay, Andrea, you always are talking about doing things in a science experiment kind of way. Isn't that like a science experiment kind of way?” Yes. But did you have the right mindset going into it? I don't know that we don't know. Did you execute effectively? We don't know.

What if we tried this again with a different mindset and a different execution plan? I'm talking about raising prices. What if we tried that again? A lot of people will resist because they already tried that.

There's an example. You're not even accepting the challenge of trying it again because of what happened in the past. If we stay in this past place, we are not going to achieve what we really want to achieve and probably what we're capable of. This out-of-date thinking, these old stories are holding us back from becoming that person who we want to be. We've surrendered to the past. We are no longer going to go for it.

Now, this episode is being released in January. I purposely have it released in January because here's the thing, usually at the beginning of the year, we are always looking forward. But there are some statistics out there, I believe it's by January 21st or 19th, I forget, we give up on looking forward and we go back to our old ways of looking in the past.

Yes, on January 1st, you might have been very forward-looking. But by now, the excitement has worn off and you may be doubting things. Let me dig a little further into this. Part of this is based on what I call emotional childhood.

Emotional childhood is not truly childhood but if we think about it, in our childhood, we have created an image of ourselves who we were as a child. A lot of times, who you are as a child is someone who is not fully mature and willing to take on the challenges and responsibilities of what's ahead.

There's an episode, I believe it's episode six that's called Emotional Childhood and Taking on Responsibility. If you've not listened to that episode, go listen to it. It is like an OG episode and it is a great one.

But a lot of times, we let our childhood, I'm not even talking about the past like yesterday, I'm talking about the past like, I don't know, however old you are, 40 or 50 years ago, you were letting events from the way, way, way past from your childhood impact where you're going in the future.

Now, I will tell you something. When I started writing my book in the very beginning, one of my very first drafts had a lot in it about my childhood, and about how I perceived my parents treated me versus treated my brother. This is all just my own perception by the way. None of this probably is necessarily “truth or fact.” But I perceived it as sometimes they would think of me as just a girl and him as the big amazing boy.

Now, I don't know, Mom and Dad, if you're listening to this, which you've never listened to this, but no offense. That was just my perception. I truly believe that that “Oh, Andrea is just a girl” thing impacted me in early adulthood. I don't think it impacts me as much now but I think it impacted me in early adulthood.

I didn't accept some of the challenges that perhaps were put in my path and I just resigned myself to the job I had or the life that I was going to live. I don't know if you've experienced any of that. But you can see how that past was impacting my future.

Really, what that emotional childhood is about is your self-image. When I think back to my past, my vision of myself was not this woman that was going to go out, conquer the world, and become a CEO of her own company. This emotional childhood or this past is really acquired less from actual behaviors that happened, and more from how others responded to me or how I perceived their response.

My core sense of self the way back in the day was molded really by how I interpreted the consequences of words and actions. My interpretation, whether that be exaggerated or distorted, which it usually is, really is impacting creating my future. I could not change my interpretation.

Let me put this back away, I cannot change what happened, the words or actions, but I do have the ability to change my interpretation. I can change the meaning that I attached to whatever happened in my childhood. Let me bring this back to today. I can also do the same for what happened in 2023.

I asked my clients in my mastermind this week, “What lessons did you learn from 2023?” What I'm asking them to do is to attach some meaning to the past so that we learn from the past. Some of them learned about things that they wanted to stop doing. Some of them learned the things they wanted to start doing. Sometimes they learned things they want to continue. Sometimes they came up with things about themselves that they had just observed, in looking at a longer period of time, not just a day, they noticed how they changed over the year.

You can change the meaning you are giving your past. I learned to change the meaning of what I was giving my really early childhood years, mid-adulthood, which helped propel me into creating the business I’ve created today, and into being the person I am today.

I just want you to notice this. You can't change the messages received or the actual things that happened, but you can change the meaning. What haunts us most usually are the mistakes, the times when we have felt embarrassed, humiliated, ashamed, disappointed, or frustrated. The worst part of these actions or occurrences is if you actually use those times to define yourself.

I'm someone who isn't good with numbers. There's a great one. Maybe in the past, you weren't aware of a tax bill that you had to pay, so you weren't saving for it and that was a mistake. Now you're defining yourself from that mistake. Or it really wasn't even a mistake, it was something you didn't know and you felt like you should know it.

Someone wrote to me the other day and they said, “I feel like a little kid sitting at a table full of adults when people are talking about money. How do I change that?” She can change what sitting at that table means. She could say, “Oh, my gosh, I'm so glad I'm here. I'm ready to learn. Teach me everything.”

She doesn't have to feel like a little kid like she's not good enough. But many of these negative kinds of things, negative feelings we have about ourselves are still indirectly influencing the present and future quality of our life and business. In fact, the biggest failure or mistake that you can make is sticking with the past in a nonhelpful, serving way, or useful way.

I think in that Dr. Leon Seltzer's article, he had a line where it said something like, “These faulty short-sighted conclusions probably exemplify our single biggest mistake of all.” I thought that was super interesting.

Ask yourself, there are tons of things you wish you had or hadn't done or were done to you, are you being burdened by them? Are they creating limiting beliefs like, “I'm not good enough. I can't compete. I don't measure up. I'm not smart enough. I don't have the confidence. I don't really deserve to succeed. I'm lazy”?

I hear that sometimes from prospective clients, “I'm just lazy and I need someone to push me.” Or I hear, “I don't really know what to contribute to the conversation. I've got nothing to contribute. I don't fit in. I can't make decisions to save the life of me. I don't I'm not really good at expressing feelings. It's not safe for me to have these feelings. I need to be responsible for everything,” or “I don't have the power to make that decision.”

Those are all kinds of negative beliefs that you could be holding based on things that have happened in the past and they are sabotaging your access to future you. Because at this gut level, you are experiencing them as true. Just like I could go back to my childhood “girls are girls, but boys are amazing” kind of thinking, if I really stuck there and experienced that as true, then I would not be creating the business I'm creating right now.

I want you to assess what are you doing in that category. Now, how do we bring ourselves up to date? How do we get to that future you? Number one, we already talked about it, you can change the meaning. There's nothing wrong with changing the meaning. There's nothing wrong with that. Really, what does that mean? That means just changing your thoughts. That is it.

We've talked a lot on this podcast about changing thoughts. A lot of what coaching does is help you change thoughts. I applaud the people who come to me and say, “I'm just not good at this, but I'm tired of being not good at this.” Or “I am so bad at numbers, but I'm tired of being so bad at numbers.” They're ready to address it. They're ready to change the meaning. They're ready to move into the future.

I want you to really identify these different areas where you've got this negative, biased self-talk about the past. I want you to identify it. That's your first step in getting rid of these out-of-date assumptions, we'll call them. Then the next step is I want you to learn to talk to yourself differently.

You need to learn to talk to yourself differently. It's like self-coaching. A lot of times in coaching, what I'm doing is helping you self-coach. Here's a great story and I might have chatted about this on the podcast yesterday. But I did have this Instagram conversation with someone who I don't know who was reading my book. I asked her what she was working on in 2024.

She told me how she really just needs to show up for herself and that she's been treating this business as a job-y. I kept asking her questions. I just innocently asked her, “Hey, have you considered coming to She Thinks Big Live?” She said, “Yeah, I've been thinking about it.” Then I asked her, “Why would it be a great idea?”

She started to talk herself into coming. “It would be a great idea because I would get some guidance for 2024. It would be a great idea because I'd be in a room full of like-minded women. It would be a great idea because it would help me take my business more seriously.”

That is a way of her self-coaching and talking herself into her future her, into who she wants to be. That Leon Seltzer guy wrote down, “You might consider this a-where-ness.” It's vital that you understand where you have come from and where you want to go because you can't get to the future, you can't get past your past until you revisit it and change the meaning around things.

One other thing that I want to share with you is there are lots of ways to change this awareness, changing the meaning self-talk. But another way to change this is to just say goodbye to the past, to close the past, and to say, “Last year, I was not showing up for myself and my business. And this year, I am going to do that.”

You don't necessarily have to make the past mean anything. You could just add the word “and” into your sentence and move forward. That little word “and” is amazing. “I did not make the money I wanted to make in 2023, and I'm creating a plan to make it in 2024.”

I think it's helpful but we don't have to go back and figure out all the reasons why. We can just move forward, we can accept the challenge ahead of us. A lot of times, again, I've shared this on the podcast, when people get on calls, they give me this whole big long back history, all the backstory, and I cut them off. I say, “Wait, what are we doing today? Or what's the problem right now? I don't need the backstory. You could tell me all that and how are we moving forward?”

You don't need to give me that past history because it's the past and maybe you learned something from it, I hope you did. Even if you didn't, you still can move forward.

Okay, my friends. That is what I have for you today. If I do say so myself, this unscripted podcast I think went pretty good. I’ve had a couple of ideas written down but not nearly the detail I usually do because I just wanted to experiment because I've learned that sometimes I get too detailed in my podcast prep. That is the past.

I think of it sometimes as a burden, the podcast prep part as a burden. I've assessed that, I've learned from it, and really use that as a teacher. And moving forward, I can try different ways to record these podcasts, but something must be going well because my listenership keeps going up and I hear from you, my listeners, that these podcasts are helpful.

In that regard, would you do two things for me? Actually, would you do three things? Number one, would you share this podcast with a friend? Who is someone that you know that is stuck in their past? Share it with them. Tell them that they can change this. Tell them that the past is a teacher, but not a fortune teller. Tell them that. Share this with a friend.

Number two, message me. I've been hanging out mostly on Instagram these days, gotta be honest. DM me on Instagram at andrea.liebross.coaching. Tell me what you got from this podcast. Tell me what else you'd like to hear and learn about. Or you can send us an email at I want to hear from you. I want to hear from you, my listeners, this year. That is one of my big objectives.

The third thing, I'm just going to throw in there, if you haven't written a review for the podcast ever, I would love that. Go on Apple or iTunes, and write a review. I mean, I would give you big kisses because those reviews are hard to get because people don't take the time. But that would be a real gift to me if you could write a review.

Alright, my friends. Check out She Thinks Big Live if you're listening to this before January 19th. Grab your ticket at If January 19th has already passed, go check out what we did at Have a great rest of your week. Enjoy it and remember, this is the time to level up. There's no better time. Reach out to me. Let's set up a call. I want to help you do that in the coming year. Talk to you soon.

Hey, listening to podcasts is great. But you also have to do something to kick your business up a notch. You need to take some action, right? So go to and take the quiz. I guarantee you'll walk away knowing exactly what your next best step is to level up.

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I'm Andrea Liebross.

As a business and life coach specializing in helping unapologetically ambitious women entrepreneurs from a variety of industries level up their businesses and personal lives, I provide strategies to boost clarity, confidence, productivity, and profitability while teaching you how to transform obstacles into opportunities. I’m also a speaker, host of the Time to Level Up podcast, and author of the best selling book She Thinks Big: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Guide to Moving Past the Messy Middle and into the Extraordinary. If you’re ready to drop the drama and achieve time, money, and energy freedom, you’ve come to the right place. It’s time to combine Big Thinking with solid systems to unleash your success. Let’s do this!

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