Tip/Thought of the Day

Does The Past Define Us?

We are officially in the holiday season. A time that starts with Thanksgiving and ends with a New Year. It’s a special six weeks where we have a chance to see all the hope and good cheer the holidays can bring us. It’s also a unique opportunity to give thanks for all we have.

I don’t mean the quick recitation before meals or on Thanksgiving. So often we focus on and lament what we don’t have, how about what we do have?

It may be the hard won successes we’ve achieved throughout the year.
It may be the culmination of study and schooling.
It may be the love and commitment of a family who’s there through thick and thin.
It may be friends who are committed and steadfast through ups and downs.
It may be the small victories amassed and progress seen when dealing with chronic medical issues.

Sometimes just knowing we aren’t facing our struggles alone can make all the difference.
For most, there were successes intermingled with failures, because that’s what life really is, a combination of both. Facing our challenges doesn’t always mean a positive outcome. Putting forth our best effort, regardless of the result, is all we can do. Sometimes failure is just a set up for future success. The process may often be out of our control, but how we respond to that failure is not.

We are a compilation of our life experiences. Together they make us who we are today- the good and the bad.

One of my patients has a past that threatens to overwhelm him during the holidays. He now has a loving family who want nothing more than to embrace and be there for him, knowing his traumatic history as a child; abandonment by his parents and instability of repeated foster homes growing up. But his anger and resentment make that impossible. Each year it strengthens, threatening to explode and destroy all he has achieved and now has.

We all have a story- of loss, pain or hurt.

Take a minute, 60 seconds, each day to stop, close your eyes and see those who have impacted your life. From the here and now, to days gone by, they all formed the person you’ve become.

We may wish we had more loving parents, thoughtful children, understanding teachers, kinder bosses, or more loyal friends. Those challenges and ordeals either made us stronger, more resilient, tougher skinned or created victims.

Either way, it’s time to move on. Let go.

Holding onto anger, pain, and suffering hurts us more than those who caused it. In many cases they either don’t know or don’t care they have that effect. Only you do. Stop giving them that power. Release it and see how empowered you feel when it’s no longer binding you.

Dealing directly with the source is often frustrating and fruitless. Adding to your anger and frustration.

We’ve all heard the adage- write a letter.  Put in words all you’re feeling. Then tear it up and send it out into the Universe. Freeing its hold on our souls.

Or beat up a punching bag while emoting and screaming your emotions.

Unfortunately, this rarely gives us the intended cathartic release.

But forgiveness, the act of releasing the hold those feelings have and allowing us to move on, can. It doesn’t mean ignoring the feelings are justified, forgetting the damage, excusing the behavior, or condoning the offense. It just means letting go of the corrosive anger eating you up inside and getting peace of mind in its stead.

It means putting the focus on the positives in your life and releasing the negatives.

How often do you actually put words and a voice to your feelings? Actually tell the people in your life-

“Thank you, for all you do. Thank you for your love and support. For being there through thick and thin, even when I push you away or say I want to be alone. You’re there. I appreciate and thank you for being you.”

Especially when that person is you.

Do this-

Close your eyes.
Take a minute.
Let all the faces, of all the people you love, care about, and care about you flash before your eyes. Envision the faces of those who shaped you into who you are today. Let them all surround and embrace you.

Then take a deep breath and give thanks.

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