The Critical Point // Trace Your Path Backward


Continuing from “Accept The Pain”:

The second step is to examine your current circumstances, how you got to where you are, your achievements so far, and the hidden assumptions about your life and possibilities. Whatever you have been doing with your life has not been a waste, and your path to the present has shaped you as a person in both good ways and bad. The key at this stage is to dispassionately analyze your life’s story until now, its characters and events, and evaluate the assets and liabilities you have inherited from it.

When we pause for such reflection, we begin to realize that many of our past circumstances led us to create rules for ourselves that we have adopted across our lives. These rules might have value in certain applications, but applied too broadly, limit our range of motion and close us off to valuable experiences and rewarding relationships.

As you relive some of the painful experiences that led you to create such rules, you will have to determine how to relax or remove these self-imposed barriers. When you reflect soberly, you see that in a particular instance something negative happened as a result of a certain action, but that not all–not even most–actions of the same kind would have led to that outcome. As a result, the rule you made for your life has to be amended.

Event by event, rule by rule, looking back on your experience not only removes impediments to your future possibilities, but it also strengthens your self-confidence. As you see what hardships you have endured so far, you begin to understand that you really are resilient. This confidence is part of the foundation for the life you want to build.


This is the fifth part of “The Critical Point”, an essay written by Exosphere founder Skinner Layne. You can read the fourth part here. The next chapter is “Examine Your Identity”.

You may download the full essay directly here.