Don’t buy into the lie that “my past is my past and has nothing to do with who I am today.”
Understanding the past, your history, is to appreciate how your story began and gain insight as to why your story is unfolding the way it is.
You did not choose where you were born or the family you were born into or how others treated you in the past. You had no control over circumstances or responsibility for other people’s choices, but you have complete control over your ability to reflect on your history in order to gain insight and understand yourself better, therefore allowing you to change your present and future.
In fact, Peter Scazzero, author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, says that “Denying the past’s impact on the present is one of the top ten symptoms of unhealthy spirituality.”
As for me, there are many things I wish I could delete from my past, but I choose not to buy into the lie that “it’s just easier to forget your past.” Instead, I want to learn more about myself by processing my past and the family that raised me. My questions have become, “How can I learn from my past?” and “How can I use that knowledge to make me emotionally healthier and more spiritually mature?”
So, what does this actually look like? How do we go about understanding ourselves better so that we can make changes for a healthier future?
Allow me to go first and give an example from my life, hoping that steers you in the right direction.
REFELCT ON MY HISTORY
“After my parents divorced in the early 1970’s, my mother had to go back to work full- time, and it wasn’t long before I needed to become quite independent. By the time I was in fourth grade, I was making breakfast, getting my brother and I off to school in the morning, and taking care of the both of us after school until our mom got home from work.”
GAIN INSIGHT TO UNDERSTAND MYSELF BETTER
“This independence grew over time until I believed that it was my responsibility to carry everybody else’s responsibilities upon my shoulders. In other words, I thought it was my job to fix or solve all the problems within our family.
This eventually led to a young lady who didn’t know how to get out from under the immense weight of enabling others.”
CHANGE MY PRESENT & FUTURE
“I don’t have to be responsible for others for the rest of my life.
I have come to realize at this point in my life that I am only responsible for myself (you’ll hear this a million times from me). It is ludicrous to think that I actually have power over another person or that I can make their choices for them. Others make their choices and are responsible for each choice they make, and I make my choices in life and I am responsible for each one.
When my son throws a fit because we don’t have what he needs for his science project the night before it is due, I remind him that ‘It’s not my responsibility to get homework information;’ when my friend uses guilt to motivate me to do what she wants, I can now say, ‘No thanks or I’m sorry but that’s not my responsibility.’
Knowing this truth, I now take the weight of other’s bad choices and allow it to be their responsibility. I do use it as a reminder, however, to carry them through prayer to His throne and lay them at His feet for His will to be accomplished in their lives.”
Now it’s your turn…
REFLECT ON YOUR HISTORY
- Make a list of any traits/characteristics that you don’t like about yourself.
- Can you connect any of these traits to people from your upbringing that modeled those traits for you?
- Can you connect any of those characteristics to past events or patterns?
GAIN INSIGHT TO UNDERSTAND YOURSELF BETTER
- When and how did you first begin to repeat this negative behavior?
- Why do you think your negative choices have become “just part of who you are?”
- How has this unwanted trait grown in your life?
CHANGE YOUR PRESENT & FUTURE
- What can you learn about this negative choice? Find Scripture that specifically addresses it and discover what God desires. Read blogs, articles, or books that will give you an accurate perspective. Talk with someone you highly respect that doesn’t struggle with the same issue.
- What would you need to change/add/stop in your life to rid yourself of this behavior?
- Create 2 baby steps for change.
- Who could keep you accountable for growth in this area?
My heart strongly desires for others to continually be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God. May this be true for your life as you look back in order to be healthier and more mature today and tomorrow.