Expose Your Past and Heal to Move ForwardSep 26, 2020
Have you ever had someone tell you, “The past is in the past. It shouldn’t have any power over you”?
That’s not entirely true. The things we would say are “in our past” are really part of our present.
People have hurt us, and we have hurt people. We have suffered wrong, and we have done wrong. We would say, “All those things happened in the past and can’t be changed.” But have your past experiences been addressed? Have you forgiven? Have you given yourself a chance to grieve and let go?
Address the past so you can be healed and open to change. Don’t let the shame of the past keep you from moving forward.
These directives reveal why dealing with the past is so important:
1. Acknowledge your past to establish a starting point. Your past is part of your history. It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened; what matters is that you’ve exposed it. You can’t make the right changes in your life if you’re trying to hide your past.
2. Forgive those who have wronged you. Forgiveness deals with the past, and it’s how you right the wrongs of those who have hurt you. To know whom to forgive, we must know what happened to us, name it and realize who’s guilty.
3. Grieve your losses. Openness to the past is the way through grief, which, in turn, is the process of letting go of things that we were once attached to. This letting go allows us to be open to the present. In short, loss opens the door to new life. Hurts and losses in our past can keep us stuck if we don’t grieve them, thereby releasing them. Realizing what we have lost, feeling anger and sadness, and then letting go frees us. Grieving is a conscious process by which we deliberately release our attachment to persons, goals, or wishes that we can no longer have. Our attachment to these outgrown things keeps us from connecting to new and better things. Ties to the old life keep us from living the new life. Ironically, sadness can move a person out of pain and into happiness. Grief can transform a heart.
4. Confess and Repent. When people examine the patterns they learned in the families they grew up in – that is, their families of origin – they are often accused of sidestepping their own problems and blaming their parents for their behavior. Certainly, it is easy to blame others when we ought to take responsibility for our own behavior. Some individuals are stuck in the blaming rut. However, there are solid reasons for exploring the past – in particular, your past in your family of origin. These reasons include: addressing issues up front, understanding whom we need to forgive, realizing with whom we should reconcile and grieving. An equally important reason for understanding the past is to repent – to turn away from patterns we learned in our families of origin.
Changing the Past
It is wrong to teach that we should just forget the past, for the simple reason that the past will one day be our entire life. Past, present and future are aspects of our lives, and there are emotions that deserve to be honored. We cannot change our past, but we must change our internal connections to those who have hurt us by forgiving them. We must release our demand that they somehow make it up to us. We need to let go of lost dreams and people.
We must take our living hurts from the past to those who can heal them. We can address the patterns we have learned from our parents and other adults, confess those destructive patterns, disagree with them, and repent from them. If we have wronged people, we must address it, apologize to those we have hurt, and make amends. Though none of these processes change the past, they can redeem the past.