If you and your past had a conversation, what would it look like?
Would your past say nice things like, “You are a really special person.” or “You are beautiful and loved.”
Or would your past say,
“How come your not more like your _____?”
“Your so stupid, you always make mistakes.”
“God doesn’t really love me, I’m not worth loving because _______ happened to me.”
Its sad but even when I type this right now I am finding it much easier to think about negative statements more than the positive ones. Our mind has a natural tendency to focus on the negatives.
We can get a million compliments throughout the day but if we get one, just one negative remark we become fixated on it.
In the same way, we tend to remember things in the past that were more negative. Experiences where we were hurt, vulnerable, scared. Times when someone said something mean or did something so hurtful that it stuck with us the rest of our lives.
When I look at my past I have found that my fear of abandonment really grappled my entire life. Since I was an orphan for awhile and I experienced two divorces at an early age (5 years old and as a teenager), I always had this message in my head that people whom I loved, didn’t really love me back.
That was a huge reason why I sought people’s approval for so long in my life, constantly wondering what people thought of me and hoping that people saw the “best” in me….so that maybe they would like me and want me in their life.
Can you think of some experiences in your past that have stuck around a little too long?
To put it bluntly, you don’t need to let your past define you any longer. If you are a born again Christian, you are a new creation because of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for you and me.
This also means that much of your past is like an old bad habit that needs to be broken.
The reason I say habit is because for many of you, the same negative draining messages have been constantly recurring in your mind for so many years.
What are some things you can do to help you move on and heal from your past?
1. Use the Tetris Effect to your advantage.
You must be thinking, what on earth are you talking about? The tetris effect is a study that was done by a Professor from Harvard Psychiatry and found that people who played tetris reported having dreams about the game later when they slept.
The reason he explains is that when we continually focus on a certain thought or activity, our brains changes (neuroplasticity) in order to make it easier to do it the next time.
This is relevant because whatever you focus on, you will in effect, cause changes in your brain that will make it easier to think that particular way.
You probably have been so focused on the negative experiences in your past that you have literally altered your brain to make it easier to focus on them.
What you need to do now is retrain your brain by starting to focus on more positive things about you and your past.
2. Remember that your past isn’t a bad thing.
God uses our past to make broken things new again and to use our testimony to help others in similar situations. Remember, all of those scars that you have now our reminders that you survived, that God helped you through it, and that you have a hope and a future in Christ.
3. Recognize the lies you continually tell yourself
Take out a pen and paper and write down all of the thoughts that come to mind when you think of the past. Circle the ones that are in any way negative and throw it in the trash.
This is a powerful exercise that helps us do two things, 1) take inventory of our thought life because we are unaware of the powerful thoughts we often tell ourselves, 2) Helps us retrain our mind to stop focusing on our negative thoughts by “throwing them away.”
In order to heal from your past you must learn to accept the reality of your past, understand that what happened doesn’t define you, appreciate even the most painful moments so God can use them to help others today, and praise God for the beautiful future you have right now.
What are some thoughts in the past have you listened to far too long?