We all have a past.
If each one of us spent enough time unpacking it all we would uncover some experiences, that no matter how long ago they occurred, can still make us feel good about ourselves and some experiences that make a us feel a bit down on ourselves and still some experiences, quite frankly, we are probably just thankful our mother never found out and they never made the front page of the local paper or the YouTube highlight reel.
Regardless of the unique events of our pasts, the similarity we share is that our experiences still follow us today. Our past experiences are either holding us back or they form a firm foundation to propel us to reach our full potential.
As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, a critical step we need to take is to develop a healthy view of our past in order to not let some painful experiences follow us with a dark cloud that limits the view of our full potential.
If we spent some time working through our past with someone caring and skilled, we probably would come to realize that we still hold on to some of these experiences in an unhealthy way. If we spent enough time and worked really hard on unpacking our past with someone caring and skilled, we would probably uncover some experiences that we may have thought we dismissed or did not initially recall but are actually still holding us back from being our best selves.
The reality is we have experiences in our memory both at the conscious and unconscious levels that impact how we view our past as it relates to reaching our full potential in the future.
We all need some help to be our best selves. Below are a few thoughts on developing a healthy view of our past which will enable us to create the foundation to reach our full potential in the present and future:
- Rise Above to better understand. As we view experiences in the past, it is important that we “rise above” to take a view of all the people and events in order to process the full situation. Like a coach in a skybox, rising above will help us see the full field of play and understand the chain of events surrounding our experience. For example, we may come to realize someone who hurt us in the past was dealing with an overwhelming set of circumstances and acted from a deeply trouble situation. The improved understand of the events may not excuse the behavior but understanding will help us process our experiences in more healthy way.
- Assess and Learn to grow. Once we improve our understanding, then we can focus on fully assessing the situation and learning from the experience. Learning from the past, as opposed to condemnation, shame and/or bitterness, is the healthy pathway through pain in our past that will support personal growth.
- Adjust and Move Forward to our future. Our past should not limit us, regardless of our experiences. If we can process events in a healthy way, we can adjust our mindset and form a strong foundation to keep moving forward to reach higher and realize our full potential.
No matter how “down” we use to feel about a past experience, if we focus on learning and growing, we can create a healthy mindset around some pretty difficult experiences and use them to bring about the bright future we desire. As we guide our thoughts about our past by principles such as understanding, courage, and compassion, we build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to build hope for the future for ourselves and those close to us.