Healing the Past

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Photo by David Clode from Unsplash

“A scar can be a reminder of a difficulty boldly overcome”

Last week’s article focused on positive aspects of looking back to our past (click here to read it). However, trying to deal with difficulties from long ago can often impede us from reaching our full potential. Even simply recalling these memories can be troubling. The most common advice to those in this situation is either “just don’t think about it” or “let it go”.

That last bit of advice is one that often baffles me. Humans, by nature, do not seek out abusive situations and reward themselves by purposefully recalling those painful memories. If they knew how to “let it go”, they would. The key is in understanding how that is accomplished so our lives can begin to heal.

Healing is a subject very dear to me. In fact, I wrote a book about my journey and since then have developed additional ideas and techniques specifically to help others. Because our journeys are different, the challenge is conveying them in a way that is applicable for each person. Examine it carefully. Some alteration may be needed to suit you better.

I struggled with my past and had no desire to dwell on it but confronting it was part of the process. With the aid of an incredible therapist, I realized that although the initial damage was done by others, most of the collateral and extremely hurtful damage was done by the negative perceptions, thoughts, and truths I believed about me. I somehow deserved them to happen!

This is a common reaction in abusive situations and these occurrences start when we are too young to know any better. At this age these destructive thoughts multiply swiftly and profusely. After years of them echoing in our minds, we learn to believe this is who we are: unworthy, not smart enough, bad, or any number of shameful feelings we’ve smacked ourselves with.

The first step towards healing is understanding that all of these shameful thoughts are unfounded, incorrect, and lies. That young version of ourselves believed them because we assumed they were true. The best defense against those thoughts is to forgive your younger self for actually believing them. Our circumstances drove us into believing they were factual but now our understanding has shown us the contrary.

It is not in forgiving our abuser (which will be discussed in a future article) but by looking back and understanding that the horrible thoughts were many of the road blocks we faced. Forgiving ourselves can begin to release – and in a way, “let go” – any shame we harbor, and promote a healing and rebuilding of that person we can then become.

There is no age restriction. I believe anyone can heal from past difficulties. It is not always an easy step but so well worth it. Getting a greater understanding of who we are will ultimately promote healing and a spiritual growth that manifests in us – someone of whom we will be extremely proud.

If you have any questions after reading this article, please feel free to contact me. My life is dedicated to helping other heal and I always looking forward to making that come true. My thanks to David Clode from  Unsplash for the beautiful artwork and I truly look forward to your comments.

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A Window into the Past

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Photo by Lucas Bravo from Unsplash

“Sometimes we reflect so we know which direction to go in the future”

Our past holds many stories from our life. A mixture of many and varied emotional experiences, there is no denying that they are a complete and total sum of who we are today. While some would give anything to go back and undo the ones which might haunt them, to date no time machine has been invented to allow this.

Many attempts have been made at making inspirational quotes about the past and interestingly enough, contradictions abound as to whether or not it’s sage advice. Patrick Henry, one of the founding fathers of the United States, famously proclaimed, “I have no way of judging the future but by the past” and for this very same reason many study history so prior mistakes aren’t repeated. There are, however,  quotes which state “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way” or some more poetic version proclaiming there are more important ways of spending your time.

So what is the hidden truth about looking and reflecting back on our lives? Is it helpful or detrimental? Will it stop us from moving forward or prohibit future mistakes? It would be great if the answer were only a simple yes or no, but as in most of life’s predicaments, it’s not quite that cut and dry. It’s best to examine into the positive and negative aspects of both.

Many of my articles emphasize the importance of self-reflection but that is not possible without examining one’s past. However, its purpose is not to be stuck there or paralyzed by it; otherwise, it becomes an excuse for not progressing as a human. It should be a constructive technique to enhance self-confidence and contribute to becoming a better person.

The other day I was discussing this with a good friend of mine and her thoughts caused me to stop and reflect on what she had just said. Bettye eloquently expressed that sometimes if we don’t consider our past, we can tend to forget the struggles we faced which in turn could cause us to be less forgiving and perhaps think more highly of ourselves than we ought to.

Looking back also can be very helpful and healing if we understand how to do it correctly. The downsides and drawbacks occur when we are trapped in our past. Unfortunately, some examine their past only to find ways of blaming others for their misfortunes. Although some were abused or horribly mistreated, the key is not to allow that mistreatment to be the excuse for current and future failures.

Please know that in no way am I attempting to minimize or dismiss anyone’s past abuses. Truly the grievances and injustices which many have suffered were tragic and have been huge road blocks. The key, I believe, is in healing from these difficulties and learning to overcome those injustices.

In next week’s article, we’ll discuss some ways to heal from these troubles and techniques to overcome the stains caused from these occurrences. Should you wish to discuss this more privately, feel free to contact me directly. I look forward to your comments and thanks to Lucas Bravo from Unsplash for the beautiful photo.

Winning the Battle

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“It’s not always a show of strength that shows actual strength”.

In today’s world, there are lots of exhibitions of power, might, and muscle. They range from something as simple as 2 children racing in a playground to professional sports leagues generating billions of dollars. Although competitive sports have been around for thousands of years, modern civilization has done much to accentuate and promote their value.

Physical strength, however, is not the only method for brandishing dominance over another. More recent innovations have sprung activities such as spelling bees, memorizing trivia, or mathematical duos. It’s even spilling over into the arts with shows battling over cooking and other epicurean rivalries. There is almost no limit to what can be made into a competition, mainly for entertainment purposes.

Typically during these spirited events, we tend to root for a one person or team and cheer them on to the end. Sometimes we root for the home team because to a small degree, their efforts somehow reflect on us. There is one choice which no doubt many have made and that is rooting for the “underdog”.

There is something about watching an encounter and seeing the person who has the odds stacked against him or her come out victorious. This is no modern trend, it has been around probably since our ancestors began viewing competitive activities. Most of us are familiar with the ancient story of David and Goliath where the massive giant of a soldier was slain by the lowly shepherd boy.

These narratives always have an inspirational aspect to them and the idea that the downtrodden, exploited, or suppressed come out a conqueror perhaps gives us a glimmer of hope for our next endeavor. The details in those accounts make a much larger impression on our memories and are the ones most often remembered and repeated.

However, being the underdog, doesn’t guarantee a victory; just as displaying a show of strength doesn’t translate into certain victory. Often people go out of their way to stage a show of strength but this masquerade is typically hiding some flaw or fear rather than demonstrating courage.

In a boxing match, intimidation is part of the strategy and exaggerating self-confidence to the point of cockiness may be a tactical approach. This can be true with other events that are generally produced for entertainment and show. However, vital issues which can greatly impact the lives of others should not be merely a staged or rehearsed charade parade.

Most of the great leaders throughout history were known more for their courage, patience and wisdom rather than one of intimidation. Although fully capable of defending their team, physical conflict was rarely the first choice of action. It is safe to say that most who constantly depend on reminding everyone how strong, able, and competent they are really are crying signals to the contrary.

What the world needs are people who will lead; and not with the iron fist of omnipotence but rather with wisdom and patience knowing that equality, liberty, and integrity are what their legacy is leaving behind.

Thank you as always and I look forward to your comments.

One Last Reflection

“Each time one gazes into a mirror, should it remind us of who we are?”

Introspection and getting a better understanding of who we are, have been the overarching themes for the past few articles including last week’s (click here to read it). Yet there still remains one more important point that is worth taking a last look.

One of the objectives of honest, self-reflection is to shine a light on what we can do to make a change and grow. What it definitely is not is an exercise on how to point the finger at someone else in order to fix our own personal issues.

Unfortunately, many seem to think they have been given the gift of understanding the problems which others confront. It is perplexing the number of examples in which people want – and in many cases, expect- others to change; acting as though they themselves are the designated mirror of self-reflection.

The world is filled with appalling examples of societies in bitter disputes over whose way is right. Community leaders who ought to be more concerned with uniting the public are seemingly doing their best to divide and devastate it.

While there is no objective neither to malign nor endorse any particular viewpoint, there is 100% certainty that name calling, blaming and condemning your opposition will never persuade, coax or motivate them to change their minds.

The antithesis of self-reflection and growth  would be pointing the finger at others and demanding that they be the ones who change. But why is it so easy for so many to point the finger at someone else? Precisely because it is so easy to do so.

Finding something wrong with ourselves is not a comfortable feeling by any stretch of the imagination. People don’t wake up in the morning and ask, “What horrible behavior will I discover about myself today”? Finding flaws and blemishes within us creates all kinds of unpleasant emotions and typically is not something we schedule into our calendar.

However, I believe that honest and sincere introspection has the ability to generate incredible change around the entire world. When we get a better understanding of who we are, the ego loses its stronghold over us. It builds a confidence that is mightier than the unduly influences of those with whom we disagree. This strength allows us to be more tolerant and accepting of diverse and differing views.

Perhaps this is a bit inflammatory but what if everyone around the planet would begin an honest and sincere approach to self-reflection, it could be a sincere first step toward global peace. A tranquil person is much more likely to be the same with others.

By no means is this an easily achievable task but at least all who attempt it will not be disappointed with the greater understanding they gained about themselves. That will certainly accomplish more than pointing a finger at the rest of the world.

Thanks to eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash for the beautiful and fitting picture. I look forward to your comments.

If there were but one.

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Photo By Sonja Andersen

“The greatest gift one could ever give is rarely anything tangible”

The inspiration for my articles often comes to me while feverishly working on another one. In last week’s article (click here to read it), it happened again and I could hardly wait for this Sunday to arrive.

Perhaps the most difficult task I face in writing these articles is how to convey my experiences in a meaningful and thought-provoking way. The struggles I face are undeniably different from yours and making them relevant is a challenge I enjoy.

The previous two articles about giving generated many heartfelt comments and I certainly appreciated reading them. However, while in the middle of last week’s, I pondered the idea that what if, throughout our entire lifetime, we were only able to give one gift? What would that gift be?

Admittedly I am no big fan of these made-up scenarios which corner you into unreal situations, but this thought compelled me to contemplate on what it would be?

Had I asked myself this very same question a decade ago, I dare say it would have been a completely different answer. For the one gift that has been most precious to me in the last 6 years was when my therapist gave me the proper tools for better self-insight and introspection. He also helped me implement them effectively towards my healing and growth and it was nothing less than a complete life-changing experience.

Perhaps some of you are thinking that you know yourself pretty well and far be it from me to say you’re incorrect. Again, I can only share my experience. Early on in my therapy, I thought I knew who I was too. However, it didn’t take long for Shannon to ask me questions that began to expose things about me that in the past I overlooked and frankly, did not want to see.

I never realized how much shame – defined as believing the negative things about who I was and am – controlled much of the way I viewed myself. These destructive thoughts usurped my thinking and eventually convinced me I was unworthy, awful, or undeserving. It ultimately influenced decisions that would hinder, damage and even sabotage my own life.

True insight and self-reflection make it possible for us to see both the negative and positive aspects of who we are. Since we are also human beings, our experiences constantly evolve us and those changes necessitate amending that perspective of the person in the mirror.

Undoubtedly, insight and introspection are important to me because I know how essential it was for my growth and that passion resonates in my writing and just about every person with whom I connect.

At times it manifests as a physical feeling; not as though a weight was lifted from my shoulders but rather an opening or a lightness in the middle of my chest. It is literally something I wish I could give everyone but the only way to do that, would be giving it as a gift.

Thanks again to Sonja Andersen for this beautiful picture. As always, I look forward to your comments.