“Make the past a blessing.” Zvi Ish-Shalom

This was something I heard this morning and it really struck me. As I write this in the late afternoon, it is still with me.

This year I have dug deep into the past- way past, and am now weeding through my more “current” past. A couple of times in my life something has happened to jolt me into this type of exploration.

One of the times was when my father passed away in 2008. So much of the past surfaced for me. It was a difficult few years ahead full of processing- sometimes gracefully, sometimes not- all that came up.

The next time was a few years ago when I experienced a very challenging time with a friend that really shook me to my core. I am sure I will be ready to write or talk about the details at some point, but not yet. The situation sent me into a tailspin that resulted in years of introspection leading right into this year which, I didn’t realize when it started, would be the best year for digging in and making some major personal growth progress.

2020 served personal growth opportunities up on a platinum platter!

Making peace with the past is not easy. Getting to know yourself is not easy.

It’s painful! And not for the faint of heart. Doing this type of work takes courage- a trait I never used to describe myself.

And it comes with BIG REWARDS!

Back to “Make the past a blessing.”

Though there may be painful parts of your past- long past and more current past- they are part of the tapestry which is you. This beautiful one of a kind tapestry. You.

Being willing to look at all that you have been through- especially this year- is to open a treasure chest. For one thing, you realize you are resilient! You have already made it through your most challenging days to date! How about that?

If you decide to take on the mindset that things are happening FOR you and not TO you, can begin to reap the blessings that your past represents and take them into the future.

We are all human and we all make mistakes. What I have learned in my own self work, as well as working with so many clients over the years is that we are very hard on ourselves. We tend to think a lot about what we perceive we have done wrong or what wrong has been done to us, and a lot less about all that we have done right and all the good that has been done for us.

And we don’t need to figure it all out either. Sometimes there is no answer to something that happened, at least not one you have access to, and the best thing, though challenging, is to let go of trying. Learn what you can learn from it, release it to the past and free yourself.

I have never been able to get a good answer that I could understand in my friend situation, but I can be grateful to have learned so much about myself because of it. I have made peace that I may never know the answer, and it has been full of hurt and very difficult to do.

If you are on this 21 day journey with me I invite you to write your answers to these questions and anything else that comes up for you in reading this post.

What blessings can you make/recognize out of what you have experienced over the past year?

What are you stuck on, ruminating and searching for an answer to that you know it is time to let go of?

How can focusing on the blessings of your past, rather than perceived or real failures, mistakes, misunderstandings, and other challenges create a healthier you?

If you are feeling brave- start to write a list of all of the latter. Next to each write a possible blessing you can take from that situation. Some will be easier than others to discern. ***If this is very difficult, especially if triggering, I suggest finding a good person, like a therapist or someone you trust to listen and allow you to process through this stuff.***

I have been fortunate to have people to hold space for me as I have done this work. Having people who are willing to listen is important, but for me the most important processing has been through writing. Writing out how I feel in a journal each day has helped me to take the difficult emotions down several notches so that I could deal with them more successfully.

It’s a messy process, filled with aha’s which can really feel good, and other times, so upsetting. A real roller coaster.

The past influences the present. And that is why, for me, my past has been important to address.

In 12 step programs they refer to “defects of character.” These usually develop through happenings of the past.

In moving into 2021 consider what Confucius said “Study the past if you would define the future.”

Learn everything you can about yourself. Take all of that into the future with you as strengths you will use to create the life and relationships you want to have. Be brave. Visit your past to gather your wisdom and live in the present putting that wisdom into action.