Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have -- so spend it wisely. - Kay Lyons

The world--your world, my world--is composed of only three time zones: past, present, and future. Focusing your mind exclusively on the past or the future will get you into trouble and render you ineffective while you are in the present. All of your power to accomplish, your ability to be effective, make decisions, be happy, and exert maximum personal control over your life lies only in the way you handle each succession of present moments.

Your only point of power is in the present moment.

Your physical power is limited to the now. If you want to move the chair you're sitting on, for instance, you can only do it in the present. You cannot move the chair in either the past or the future. You can wish you had moved the chair yesterday or last week, or you can think about moving it sometime in the future, but neither your wishes nor your thoughts are of any consequence.

You have no power to change your past physically. However, you do have the power in the present moment to change your thoughts, feelings, and attitudes about bygone events. After all, it is your mind, your emotions, and your attitude, and in any single present moment no one has power over them except you--unless you give that power to other people or to past events by the way you choose to think about them.

In effect, you can choose either to react or respond to your past. Reacting to your past is the process of allowing your thoughts to trigger and stir up the same negative emotions about past events you didn't like when you experienced them the first time. Responding to your past is the process of accepting where you are in the present as an okay place to be, then dealing with your past as nothing more than a stream of already lived events that have no direct power over your present other than what you give it. Mentally accept where you are and move on from there.

All too often, when you dredge up unpleasant memories, you trigger the negative emotions of guilt or self-criticism characterized by self-flagellating thoughts of what should have or ought to have been. Or you center the blame on people, events, or bad luck and end up experiencing the negative emotions of anger, hate, self-pity, jealously, revenge, and resentment. Yet you have changed nothing. You have punished no one--except yourself. All you have done is render yourself ineffective and emotionally out of balance, leaving yourself powerless. Which is the easiest way to run a hundred yards: pulling a wagon loaded with two hundred pounds of bricks, or remaining totally unimpeded of anything dragging along behind you?

To design and control your future effectively, you must first let go of your past.

The more you dwell on the past, the more the past limits and controls your future. In taking control of your life, you must begin with a clean slate. That means dumping the garbage of the past and its hold on you.

It is all too easy to get caught up and trapped in the magnitude of what has happened to you, whether in your childhood or even the day before yesterday. In reality, whatever negative experiences have happened to you will often seem the worst, simply because they were your experiences. You can even begin to feel as if you're the only one who ever had to go through such traumas.

It is difficult to be alive without having gone through many traumatic experiences. But your past, no matter what it contains, can comprise either negative emotions to drag into your future or a solid platform of opportunities for future accomplishments.

To get where you want to go, first firmly plant your feet on the ground where you are.

The rapid accomplishment of your dreams and goals requires acknowledging and accepting where you are, what you are, who you are, and what you have done in life, for the indisputable universal truth remains: "Where you is, is where you is."

Mentally accept that where you are now is an okay place to be, at least temporarily, regardless of what has happened to you in the distant or recent past. Given the opportunity, your past can stay around to haunt you. Do not give it that opportunity. You cannot afford the extra baggage.

In life, gaining a firm foothold comes from accepting yourself and your present circumstances, no matter how much you wish you were someone or somewhere else. Wishful thinking will not change anything. This refusal to accept reality leads to frustration with your current circumstances, anger about past events and actions of other people, guilt and anguish about your own behavior, and loss of courage and confidence in your ability to handle what is going on around you.

Acknowledging and accepting where you are puts you in a position to exert maximum control and influence over your future, because you are operating from your only point of power--the present moment.

Remember, the past is no longer real. Your only reality is the present moment. Your past is only a set of thoughts that could just as easily have come from a movie as from your own experiences. That stream of thoughts cannot possibly control your life or your future--unless you allow it to occupy your mind and divert your attention from the task at hand. Anytime that happens, take back control of your own mind by focusing on the present.

Your reality is your now.

You can change how you are thinking. Let the past go, and get on with the present. It is your choice, victim or victor, of your control over your future. You can choose either one, but if success is your goal, letting go of your past is your only alternative.

Do you have some sort of disability, obstacle, or physical episode that inhibits you from time to time? If such a challenge is not occurring at this present time, why worry about it? Worry is crippling because it projects your mind into an imagined negative future, which then incapacitates you and renders you ineffective in the present. In addition, because of the power of your mind to bring into your life whatever you visualize, constant worrying only increases your chances of creating the very experiences you seek to avoid.

People have often come to me saying they can't do this or that because of their problem. One of the questions I ask in return is, "What are you able to do during the specific times when your problem is not occurring?" I usually receive one of many different answers coming at this point, but I generally have just one reply: "Why don't you go out and do what you need to do?"

Remember: JUST DO IT! Learn from the past and point toward the future, but allow neither to sabotage what you do today. That is the only way you will ever get anything done.

Author's Bio: 

Lora Morrow is a neuropsychological counselor and President and Director of Positive Personal Modification Institute. Visit her website on Conquering Stress Today at .