Are you at peace with your past? If my experience over the past 30 years is any indicator, probably not. The majority of my clients over the years have not made peace with their past.
It’s fascinating how many people don’t think that is an issue. They think it’s something going on in the present with their relationships, their career, their financial situation, etc.
Today I want to discuss three steps you must take to make peace with your past.
2. Accept and learn from your past, rather than reject it and be angry
3. Heal the heart
Before we go any further, I want to make two points. Point number one is the problem is never the problem.
When I was in grad school, my psychology professor wrote something on the board that has stuck with me all these years -- the problem is never the problem. This is an old psychology and therapy axiom, but it’s no less valid today.
It’s amazing how people get so whacked out by something they really know they shouldn’t, and they can’t change it. Why is that? It’s human nature to need to know a reason. If something is causing us pain, we have an inherent need to have a reason for it
You might ask yourself, “Why do I get so angry in traffic when everyone is else is ok?” It has to do with your buttons. What pushes your buttons? Everybody has a button or more than one! Even Oprah has talked about this.
The real question is why. Why do you get so angry in traffic? Why do you lose it when the server at the restaurant makes a mistake with your order? Invariably it’s because of something unhealed in your past.
Your unconscious mind protects traumatic memories and even protects them from being healed. Why? Because the number one job of the unconscious mind is to keep you alive. You can’t fix these painful memories because the unconscious mind is filing them away for an early defense warning system.
So that’s the first point. The problem is never the problem.
Point number two is the solution is rarely about willpower.
Most self-help books tell us that the answer is willpower, but the great majority of the time it’s not.
Take, for example, my wife Hope. Hope was severely clinically depressed during the first part of our marriage. She has an IQ over 130 placing her in the top ranks of intelligence and she read virtually a library of books to find the solution to her depression. All these books basically said the same things -- you’re not trying hard enough and think happy thoughts
Hope would vent to me in frustration, “Do they think I’m an idiot? Do they think I haven’t tried to think happy thoughts?” Like Hope, the vast majority of people can’t just turn off unhappy thoughts. So the solution to making peace with the past has nothing to do with willpower.
What can you do? Today I’m sharing three steps to make peace with your past.
Forgiveness. It’s the biggest issue on the planet. Dr. Ben Johnson has never seen a cancer patient who didn’t have a forgiveness issue.
Forgiveness must be through a change of heart. But it’s hard to change your heart when your unconscious holds on to your painful memories.
How do you know when you’ve forgiven someone? You know you’ve forgiven someone when you can say from the bottom of your heart I accept this person 100 percent unconditionally. Now you don’t have to forgive the behavior. In fact, to forgive you almost have to separate them from their behavior. The magic is when you forgive the person the behavior tends to heal as well in your heart and mind.
Don’t ever judge someone until you have walked a day in their shoes. You can never be sure how you would react in a certain set of circumstances. In other words you can’t judge anybody for anything. You can judge their behavior, but not the person.
2. Accept and learn from pain, rather than reject it and be angry.
It’s important that you have perspective when painful things happen in life. You can take two routes: you can let them pull you down or you can learn something from them. M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, says you have to go through pain and chaos. If you turn back, you never get to your best life or reality!
Life is a mountain, and hundreds if not thousands of paths lead up that mountain. If we don’t learn a lesson from a particular path, then we must go back around and start again. It’s not a horrible thing when we go through pain. It’s a lesson waiting to happen.
When I’m out on the road lecturing, I consistently ask this one thing: Have you ever had something bad happen in your life that was painful but that ended up being a good thing because it made you change and adjust? I’ve yet to not have every person in the room raise their hand.
When something bad happens accept and learn from it.
3. Heal the heart.
Lastly, you may never be able to do any of this until you first heal some of the junk in your heart. Your unconscious is a million times powerful and it doesn’t want those painful memories to heal. That’s where my Trilogy and Memory Engineering methods come in along with prayer and meditation.
Almost every single advisor, psychologist or preacher I’ve heard leaves out number 3. Well, unfortunately that doesn’t work for everybody. You may not be able to achieve numbers one and two until you heal your heart.
Take these steps to make peace with your past, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your best present and future.