How to Move Past the Pain of Your Past

Have you ever had the same old problem circle back in your life? Maybe it is the feeling of insecurity, or anxiety, or rejection, or shame- and no matter how many times you think you deal with it, it keeps on coming back?

Hello to the Summer Sun Soakers and the Vacationing Vagabonds, the Weekend Warriors, as the Barbeque Cuties! Thanks for spending some time with me today to consider your heart.

We all have our struggles, weaknesses and habits.

Take for example the tendency for people pleasing. You know you should say “no” to that lady who is asking you to volunteer but you don’t want her to think you are a loaf, so you head up that committee. Then, you get hammered for not running the committee how they wanted you too.

Or maybe you’re a fixer and you love to jump right in, even when you’re not invited, to “help” other people fix their problems. If God didn’t want you to do this, you say to yourself, he wouldn’t have made you so smart, well-adjusted and self-actualized. Until the friend your trying to “fix” ditches you for another friend and throws you under the bus while she’s at it. Ugh, I guess fixing her problems didn’t work after all. Sad face emoji.

Or what about business pickles? Maybe you pick the wrong people to be in business with. You give them the benefit of the doubt before you vetted them, or you go the way of least resistance by not confronting wrong doing, or you overlook a character flaw that gets you into trouble in the long run.

These things happen to all of us. If you have felt the same old dilemma circling back to you, consider maybe you are circling back to it.

I think of our soul as a boat, and our brokenness as its anchor. If our brokenness is unhealed, avoided, or denied, then the boat keeps drifting back to the same old place it’s always been. No matter how hard you row, that anchor won’t let you get anywhere you need to go.

Different seasons bring different weather, opportunities and necessities. But one thing you just can’ do, is expect to go anywhere on the high seas if you’re anchored in.

How can you tell when your unhealed brokenness is stopping your life from going forward? Here are some common things people experience when they’re stuck.

1.     Projection: You may find yourself heaping anxiety or anger onto someone else, often someone you love because of your own past painful experiences. You are probably not aware you are even doing it. I see this happen every day at soccer, baseball fields and basketball courts. Parents are shouting instructions from the sidelines, criticisms at the umps, and sideways chatter about the coaches. Some parents will get so vocal, their own kid will look into the stands and say, “Shhh! Be quiet!” The parents’ anxiety has ten times more to do with their own shame feelings than their child’s performance, but the child ends up carrying the burden.

2.     Judgment: When we are focused on the wrongdoing of someone else, we lose sight of our own selves. Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3-4 (NIV) Just like projection, we often don’t know we are even doing it. If you find yourself feeling judgmental against someone else, chances are, you’re being triggered by some kind of shame inside of you. It’s ok. Circle back to that initial wound and give yourself some compassion. If judgment is the sickness, then compassion is the cure.

3.     Inappropriate Anxiety or Anger: Sometimes a person will over-react in response to something that seems small because they have unfinished business with their past. Maybe you find yourself getting really worked up about something when no one else around you seems to mind. Or maybe you know that your anxiety about an issue is more than it should be but you can’t seem to settle yourself. I recently called a long time friend when I found this happening to me, and she pointed out to me some brokenness that still was weighing me down. It became an opportunity to hoist up that anchor once and for all. It was time for me to experience freedom from that weight.

4.     Indecision: Some people will be overwhelmed with the burden of responsibility to the point they can’t make a decision for fear of making the wrong one. Though at many times in their life, they had the confidence to take risks and move forward, now they experience self-doubt, second guessing, and over-analyzing-things-to-death syndrome. They normally would be able to decisively get things done, but something about their current circumstances takes them back to their childhood dynamics when they felt powerless, small and scared.


Take some time for yourself and examine the weight that keeps you anchored in the place you don’t want to be. Draw parallels about your current situation and feelings to similar situations and feelings in the past. The circumstances do not have to be entirely the same, the dynamic of powerlessness, shame, trauma and fear will be exactly the same, however.

Remember, the feelings that you are feeling are not a PROBLEM. They are an OPPORTUNITY to finally heal that achy memory or wound from the past.

When you start making connections from the current situation to your past, you’ll want to do a few things to heal:

1. Determine what you needed back then and didn’t get. Was it comfort, safety, empathy, encouragement, shelter? 

2. Write a letter to your younger self sympathizing with how she/he felt during that time. 

3. Spend some time creating ways that you can offer yourself today, what you didn’t receive back then.

4. Plan your strategy for moving forward using a mantra reminding yourself that the past no longer has a hold on you.

When doing this kind of healing work, I find it helpful to invite God into the process. I believe that God keeps bringing our boat back around to the place it’s anchored until we finally receive the healing we need. Once the brokenness is healed, the anchor is lifted and we can get on with the glorious adventure of life.

Cheers to you, and all your relationships!

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My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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