Discovering how to use our pasts to guide and empower us can be tricky. Our culture has evolved into one that spends time looking for who is to blame for our inadequacies. People often spend years in therapy or going to workshops to try to discover who or what has made them unhappy.
Over the years I have read many a self-help book advocating being in the “now.” Although I feel there is great merit in acknowledging and celebrating every moment you have, I also feel that the past and its lessons, both good and bad, are incredibly meaningful.
My career would not have been as successful as it has been if I did not have the plethora of stories I refer to about my grandmother, grandfather and mother. I have many memories of both negative and positive experiences.
Discovering how to use our pasts to guide and empower us can be tricky. Our culture has evolved into one that spends time looking for who is to blame for our inadequacies. People often spend years in therapy or going to workshops to try to discover who or what has made them unhappy. I am all for trying to heal trauma and unfortunate childhood experiences, but the art of reframing them into a model for resiliency is a far greater gift. Negative experiences can become templates for living with better understandings of who we are and what we can be.
Unfortunately, I feel it is much easier to use parents, siblings, spouses or co-workers to corroborate reasons why we don’t live our lives to the fullest. We identify “them” as the culprits that have created our inadequacies, and as a result the storyline becomes our reality.
I spent many hours being at odds with my mother and how she parented and who she chose as my stepfather. If only I had been aware of how I was wasting precious moments of my life discussing what essentially could not be changed.
My saving grace became the work I chose. I became acutely aware of how the perceptions of my past clouded my judgment and how it often made me anxious. I can still fall into some of the “painful past” dialogue when I forget that I can use my past to reinforce how I deal with the present. I have often called this “finding the bless in the mess.”
It is rare to find someone who reached adulthood without having a person in their life who wasn’t dealing with a full deck. In fact, I have met some incredibly successful individuals who have survived families that make living in an insane asylum seem like a walk in the park.
None of us is given the choice of who will be our family of origin. So it is up to us to learn to shape our lives in the most authentic way possible, by recalling, reclaiming and recasting our experiences to help serve us, not shame us.
Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth, Mass. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth, MA 02360, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the website at www.stressed.com, or call toll-free 800-998-2324.