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#298: Level-Up by Releasing Past History

Releasing past history is a requirement to leveling up our lives.

All of us have old decisions and old ways of being that follow us around and weigh us down like rocks in a backpack.

But did you know you can learn to release the rocks, so you can go to the next level in your life?

It’s all about choice and awareness of what created the rocks in the first place.

Be prepared to feel lighter and level-up your life in this episode of Be a Better Lawyer.

And don't forget to download “The Level-Up Playbook” to give you a kickstart to making the change you want.

Click here to download it.


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Level Up by Releasing Past History

All of us have old decisions and old ways of being that follow us around and weigh us down like rocks in a backpack.

But did you know you can learn to release the rocks, so you can go to the next level in your life?

It’s all about choice and awareness of what created the rocks in the first place.

Be prepared to feel lighter and level-up your life in this episode of Be a Better Lawyer.


When I was thinking through this episode, I was excited. Because I know we desire change but feel like it’s an uphill battle. And after being there myself, I also know it doesn’t have to feel so hard.

One of the greatest helps to making the journey lighter for me has been releasing past history, and releasing past history has also helped me level up my life and raise the bar on what I saw was possible for me.

And it is a journey, my friend. One thing I needed to realize is that there’s no destination. We’re here now. It’s up to us to decide what we want to make the journey right now. Today. Do we want it hard, or do we want it worthwhile, fulfilling, and challenging in all the best ways that help us grow.

So what is past history? Well it’s everything from the environment you grew up in, your past relationships, the history you have with people you’re currently in relationship with, the beliefs you have about yourself. Past history is shaped by a myriad of things.

So as a companion to this episode, I created a workbook for you to get awareness of what social and environmental rocks may be weighing you down and making it harder for you to level up your life than it needs to be. It’ll also help you systematically deconstruct it, so you can decide your next step.

You can download the Level Up Your Life Workbook in the show notes at dinacataldo.com/298

The reason past history is so important to pay attention to is because — f we’re not paying attention to it — we can allow it to drag us down.

One thing I want you to know before we get started is this isn’t an upheaval of your life — which you can totally do if you want to — it’s about starting somewhere that makes sense, and this workbook will give you that start.

When we begin uncovering and letting go of the weight of past history, it can feel overwhelming at first. We can look at the laundry list of things we want to change and wonder how we’re ever going to do it.

The good news is, awareness is a powerful first step. Then it’s a matter of choice and practicing that choice with consistency and repetition.

Alright, let’s talk about the impact of releasing past history…

I came across a video of Ekhart Tolle who has a great anecdote of what it means to NOT have past history interfering with your happiness. For anyone who has a dog, you’ll appreciate this example.

When you have a dog, the dog doesn’t have an opinion about you — that’s why you love your dog so much. They don’t judge you if you’re in a funk or if you don’t take them on a walk one day. They love you unconditionally. What’s in the past is the past. They’re in the present. They accept you as you are. Right now.

And dogs don’t have a relationship with themselves like humans have either. Dogs don’t have self-esteem problems or body image problems. They just go out into the world wagging their tail and being happy. Their mind is quiet. There’s no chitter chatter judging themselves or other dogs.

Dogs don’t have that split of ego and higher self. They don’t have the same conversations happening in their heads as we do.

Their backpack is empty. Nothing weighs them down.

Dogs experience events. But they don’t internalize and analyze them the same way we do. They accept, adjust, and move on.

Now I’m not saying you need to be as carefree as a dog, but I do want to offer that if you’re feeling heavy and having a tough time making progress in the direction you want to go in your practice or your life, then the way you internalize and analyze events isn’t serving you.

I’m going to give you tangible examples for your law practice in a minute, but I want you to first…

Imagine a race car driver. They focus on the road in front of them. They aren’t focused on the turn behind them or the crash that happened last week. They can’t be. To do that would mean taking their focus of their present as they go 200 miles per hour. That would mean death.

Or imagine Steve Jobs being fired as head of Apple. He could have focused on that past loss, but instead he focused his attention on creating a new high-end computer company called NeXt. The hardware failed to catch on, but he worked on the software. That software was so good that when Apple was flailing, Apple bought NeXt from Steve Jobs and brought him back. That software is the foundation for what the Mac and every other Apple Operating System is using today.

In these cases, focusing on the past would have spelled disaster for everyone involved.

Over your lifetime, you’ve accumulated experiences, beliefs, habits and created environments. They’ve all been packed away in your backpack. They’ve been packed away in your brain.

And — if you aren’t aware of them — they impact everything you decide to do or decide NOT to do. They impact every decision you make. And they can interfere with what you want if you’re not intentional about taking a look at them.

Unless we take them out of our backpack one-by-one and re-decide what we want to keep and what we want to discard, we walk through the world with unconscious or subconscious weights controlling how we behave.

Let me give you an example I would see as a criminal prosecutor.

One of the reasons the criminal justice system as a whole doesn’t work is because we don’t address the past history of humans.

For instance, a person would plead guilty to stealing and tell the judge, “I promise I’ll never do it again. This was really stupid, and I’m sorry.” Then a month later, we’d see the same person in court again for stealing.

Were they lying? Maybe. But even if they were 100% telling the truth, they had a lot of weights they’d have to overcome to ensure they wouldn’t do it again.

After they’re convicted, they go to jail or to work project — with other people who have committed crimes. Then they go home. To the same house. The same friends. Likely the same friends they were hanging out with in the store where they stole something from. They have the same thoughts and feelings about the environment, the friends, the family they go back to, and they have the same thoughts about themselves too.

Often I’d overhear those thoughts or read what they told police in the police report, and they’d say things like, “I’m an eff-up.” “I’m never going to change.” “There’s nothing I can do about it.” “I guess that’s just how it is.”

They haven’t been able to take a step back to examine it. They can’t see their focus on past history is harming them.

Their environment and beliefs about themselves — even if it’s not helpful — is comfortable. It’s their normal.

Because our thoughts create our feelings, and our feelings create our actions, that person is likely going to do the same actions and get the same result. To recreate the same patterns that led him to the courthouse in the first place.

It becomes a cycle.

That’s why the major success stories I saw were ones where the person was completely taken out of their environment or given lots of one-on-one help from counselors or had parents who were heavily involved and pulled them out of their old environments.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the norm. That was the exception.

Now let’s bring that home to you.

I’ll give an overwhelm example since I work with so many lawyers who start there.

Imagine this: you wait until the last minute to get a brief done.

It gets done, but you really felt stressed about it, and you stayed at the office much later than you wanted to. You promise yourself that next time it’ll be different.

Next time, you’ll plan ahead and give yourself more time.

But then you go back into the same environment.

You go back to doing the same things you always did with your calendar — usually just writing in the deadline for an assignment and your hearings and appointments.

You go back to putting out fires instead of planning ahead.

And when you find yourself stressing out and doing an assignment last minute again, you tell yourself, “I’m a hot mess.” “I’m never going to change.” “What’s wrong with me?” “I guess that’s just how being a lawyer is.”

You think this is just how life has to be, and that you need to get used to this life.

What you don’t see is that you’re unconsciously creating a cycle.

And it’s tough to pull yourself out of it.

Or let’s talk about discounting rates — because I see this come up a lot.

A lawyer may go into a consult and when it comes to giving their price, they discount. Even if they don’t ask.

Sometimes they may even given a discount after the client already agreed to the price.

Then after the consult they kick themselves because they know logically that they’ve undercut themselves.

And they tell themselves things like, “I did it again,” “What’s wrong with me?” “I’m never going to change.”

So how do you break this cycle?

You’ve got to do something completely different.

You’ve got to shake things up and drop the weights in your backpack.

No matter how many times you’ve tried things in the past, you’ve got to drop the thoughts that they didn’t work.

This can feel challenging because we’re so used to the old way of doing things, the old way of being in our environments.

We respond to the same stressors, the same triggers, the same past history we’ve held onto unknowingly.

With awareness, you have a choice. You can stay in the cycle, or you can accept where you are and say, “This may be where I am right now, but my past doesn’t determine my future.”

From there you shake things up.

For example, you decide you’re going to say your full price and not discount. You sit with the discomfort, and you don’t discount.

Or you seek out people who can help you, and you get help from them.

You won’t feel 100% confident in your choice because this is new. You may question it. But what’s the worst that could happen? You stay in the cycle. And you were there already anyway.

My client Andrea started working with me because she wanted to shake things up. She said she didn’t think she had the time for coaching, but she decided to do it anyway.

That was a shake-up for her — doing something that her brain told her was hard or maybe even not possible.

That one shake-up helped her get out of the cycle of overwhelm she found herself in and is helping her grow her practice.

If you can’t seem to make progress no matter how hard you try, then hear this:

It’s time to do something differently.

Because what got you in the cycle won’t help you get out of the cycle.

What got you to your current level won’t get you to your next level.

When I was first trying to figure out how to build a business on top of my job as a prosecutor, it felt hard.

I just knew I had to start somewhere.

I picked low-hanging fruit and did what I could until I knew I wanted help because change was just too darn slow.

For example, I’ve told this story on the podcast where I used to wake up at 6am, but then I’d hit snooze for an hour and a half until I had to jump out of bed, rush to shower and rush out the door to the office.

I realized I hated feeling frantic in the morning and decided to do something about it.

I started trying new things not knowing if they would work. But I had to release that past history of hitting snooze and rushing around. That past history wasn’t me. It was just something I did in the past and it didn’t mean anything about what I could do in the future.

Because I released those rocks, I could come up with ideas like putting the phone in the kitchen, so that I had to get up to turn off the alarm.

Of course, at first I would go back to bed “for a few more minutes,” then I realized that wasn’t going to work, and I told myself I no longer go back to bed.

I also realized I could set myself up for success by going to bed earlier.

This seems so self-evident when I say it, but when you’re in your old environment — in your past history — you often can’t see it right away.

You have to shake up your world to start seeing that you can get different results.

I go more in depth with uncovering the rocks in your backpack in the Workbook, but I want to give you a few questions to ask yourself right now:

  1. where do you see yourself repeating patterns and you don’t like the result you’re getting?

Another way to ask this: what are you avoiding that’s having a negative impact on your life?

  1. If you changed those things, how would your life be different?
  1. Do you want that life badly enough to shake things up? Why or why not?

I recently asked myself these questions, and my answer was absolutely yes I want to shake things up.

Even though I know it’ll be uncomfortable, and I won’t always want to do those things. But I know shaking things up will help me help more lawyers and it’ll help me move my business forward and other goals forward.

But to get a different result in my life, I need to shake things up.

I can’t let how comfortable I am in my past history dictate my future.

And I know that by doing that, I’m going to take a quantum leap in my business this year and help 10x more people this year than I did last year.

If what I’m saying makes sense to you, and you want to share up your life in the best way possible, I want to invite you to book a Strategy Session with me.

Even if you aren’t 100% certain about what you want, you and I will talk and find out whether working together is the next step for you.

You can book at dinacataldo.com/strategysession

Have a beautiful rest of your week.

And remember, what you want matters, and it’s 100% within your power to make it happen.

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