Monday, January 30, 2012

Making Peace with Your Past

The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself he becomes wise. ~Alden Nowlan

Are regrets, bad memories, or losses keeping you from enjoying each new day? Is the past keeping you from moving into the future with hope and anticipation?

I recently heard a man say that it was not until he made peace with his past that he truly began to live. It changed his life so drastically that everyone noticed there was something different about him. It was not until 20 years after losing his father that he began to grieve the loss for the first time. He finally allowed himself to face his past with all the anger and pain. There was so much that he missed out on. There were lost opportunities and things that would never be, so many regrets, poor choices, and bad experiences that would affect the rest of his life.

This man went through a process of acceptance and forgiveness. He felt the pain. He felt the anger. He mourned what was and could have been. And then, he released it. He made peace with his past, and he was ready to move on with his life. Suddenly, new opportunities before him became exciting. He began to fully appreciate what he had, the people in his life, and what he had become. He began to hope for a better and brighter future. He was ready to give more of himself to others. And he began to enjoy his life more and more.

For the first time since he could remember, he felt free—free of burdens from the past, free of unresolved pain, free of bitterness and self-pity. He was free indeed! He was free to enjoy his life, his family, and all that he had like never before. The past would no longer steal his joy and hope. It could not hold him back, and it was not going to keep him down any longer.

Is your past keeping you from fully enjoying your life? Sometimes we do not stop and think about it. Just like the man described above, we might have regrets, unresolved pain, sorrow, anger, or unforgiveness. These things keep us bound to the past. The past does not have to negatively influence our future. We can release it as we face it, deal with the emotions, come to accept what was and now is, and forgive our past.

Making peace with our past will lead us to experience healing, wholeness, and freedom to live our life with true joy. Every day is a new day to appreciate and enjoy. We do not have to allow our past to keep us from being truly happy today. Choose to be free and take the necessary steps to be free now. (We might want to have a professional counselor help us go through this process.)

Following are questions to reflect on and steps to take in making peace with our past:

1. Face your past. What are your regrets? What caused or still causes you pain? What are your losses? Have you grieved them?

2. Face your feelings. Does your past make you angry, sad, feel bad about yourself, bitter, damaged, cheated?

3. Forgive your past. Do you have any bitterness, hatred, or unforgiveness towards anyone (including yourself)? Why are you holding on to it? What would it take for you to release it and free yourself from its control in your life?

4. Accept your past. When we cannot change something, the healthiest thing we can do is accept it. Can you accept your past? What have you learned from it? How can it change you for the better?

5. Make peace with your past and be free. When your past no longer controls your life—your peace, your hope, attitude, relationships, ability to love others, give and share of yourself, dream, believe, and trust once again, then you are free!

It is my hope that this has helped you in making peace with your past, and in looking forward to better days ahead!


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

 He who spends time regretting the past, loses the present and risks the future. ~Quevedo

Regret is an appalling waste of energy --you can't build on it. It's only good for wallowing in. ~Katherine Mansfield 

Your memory replays your past; your imagination replays your future. ~Mike Murdock

Copyright © 2007 Krystal Kuehn All Rights Reserved

Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC is a licensed professional counselor, author, teacher, and musician. She specializes in helping people live their best life now, reach their full potential, overcome barriers, heal from their past, and develop a lifestyle of health, happiness, and love. Krystal is the cofounder of, a relationship counseling, family counseling center, specializing in helping individuals, couples and families with professional counseling services for relationship problems, parenting issues, depression, anxiety as well a s substance abuse classes, anger management groups, and more. Krystal is also cofounder of and as well as and several blogs.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Taking Responsibility

Taking Responsiblity by Dennis Liegghio
(excerpt from Building a Foundation for Happiness )

Life is difficult. This is the great truth, one of the greatest truths—it is a great truth because once we see this truth, we transcend it. ~ M. Scott Peck

For so many years, I believed that my life was a cruel joke, and was the direct result of everything that had ever happened to me. I believed that I was “born to lose” and I blamed my life events and the circumstances that I was born into. Coming to terms with three, simple truths about life allowed me to start looking at my life from a different perspective, and helped to set me free from the chains of the past.

1. Life is sometimes difficult, and can seem unfair. Bad things happen to good people every day. That’s life. We can’t control much of what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it. There are ups and downs, tragedies and triumphs, love and loss. It’s all a part of the human experience and accepting that we can’t control much of what we experience allows us to focus on the experience itself, trusting that “this too shall pass”, and take with us the lesson that we are meant to learn. Struggle, pain and adversity exist so that we may learn resilience, humility and compassion. These things did not happen to us because we are cursed or doomed or born to suffer. These things happen to us so that we can grow.

2. The world doesn’t owe me anything. I believed for so long, that because my life had been full of tragedy and heartbreak and loss that I was entitled to peace, love, success and happiness. I believed that I shouldn’t have to put any effort into, or work toward these things. I believed life owed me this. God owed me this. Everyone who I ever came into contact with owed me this. That is what I expected, and that is how I behaved. Nobody owes me anything of course, and when I accepted that, and took responsibility for it, my perceptions began to change. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have (and what I believed I should have), I began focusing on all of the amazing gifts and people in my life, and being grateful for them. Acknowledging that gratitude each day – in my heart, and out loud, helped me redirect my thoughts and to accept that I wasn’t entitled to anything. Everything was a gift! If I wanted peace, and love and success and happiness (for whatever those things meant to me) I had to work towards these things, just like everyone else.

3. My happiness and well-being is MY responsibility. For so many years, I would go to sleep each night hoping that someday, some girl would swoop into my life and rescue me. Take me away from all this pain and sadness and make everything OK. This of course, is a fairy tale. We are not capable of being good for someone else, or truly loving someone else until we are good for ourselves, until we love ourselves. It’s unfair to place this expectation on another human being. We are all trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got on our journey, and it’s not fair to dump our shortcomings, insecurities, negative attitudes and unhealthy behaviors on someone else. I needed to do some pretty serious self-examination and work on developing positive thoughts, actions and behaviors before I could start cultivating positive and meaningful relationships in my life. It’s not right to place our expectation of happiness on someone else’s shoulders, and we’ll never find happiness if we continue living life this way.

My big breakthrough moment (which I will describe later) was very similar to the scene in Good Will Hunting, though it took many years to get there: my father’s suicide was not my fault, and there was nothing that I could have done. The past is over, and it was time to move on. Nobody can change their past, and I’m not trying to minimize what I experienced as a child or anything that you’ve experienced in your past, but this is now, and we have the choice, the power, and the responsibility to start moving forward. Our past does not dictate our future… Tomorrow is built on the choices we make today.

You’ll have an amazing sense of empowerment once you decide to stop blaming others, or circumstances that you had no control over, and start taking responsibility for the choices you make starting right now. You are free to make choices every day. You are free to choose to stay in unhealthy relationships and you are free to choose not to. You are free to choose with whom you will spend your time and what you will spend your time doing. You are free to choose to express yourself or ask for help when you feel overwhelmed and you are free to choose to isolate yourself and self-medicate. You are free to choose to go for a walk or a jog or a bike ride and you are free to choose to lay on the couch and watch TV. You are free to flip the guy off who just cut you off and lose your temper and you are free to take deep breath and let it go because you have no control over this person’s actions. You are free to make choices that will help you learn and grow and you are free to make choices that will keep you where you’re at in life. It starts by recognizing that you do have a choice in each moment – reflect on what the possible choices are and make a choice based on what you think would have the most positive and healthy outcome. I was free to keep getting wasted every day and running from my problems, and I was free to make the choice to seek help and look for answers. I chose to seek help and look for answers.

Despite the stigma that is somehow still attached, seeking help from a therapist doesn’t mean that you’re crazy. The goal of therapy is to provide a safe environment for an intimate relationship to develop. In this environment, you learn the skills needed to open yourself up and be vulnerable to someone else and discuss your fears and insecurities. Through this relationship, where the therapist is a professionally trained listener with the ability to empathize, you can feel free to discuss these things, and arrive at a place where you feel confident and secure enough to move forward in a healthy manner. The client / therapist relationship builds trust and helps you to develop communication and coping skills. In short, you are taught how to own and process your feelings. Therapy can be a very helpful thing for those of us who have experienced traumas that we have not yet processed. Building intimate relationships with others (not just romantic ones) can also be useful for these purposes, but therapy provides an unbiased, professional environment. If you are having trouble sustaining meaningful, intimate relationships with others I would strongly suggest looking into therapy. My life, attitude and relationships have all improved dramatically since.

Building a Foundation for Happiness
by Dennis Liegghio

Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses. ~George Washington Carver

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. ~ Jim Rohn

If it's never our fault, we can't take responsibility for it. If we can't take responsibility for it, we'll always be its victim. ~Richard Bach

 Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality. ~John W. Gardner

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