So, it's a new year -- 365 days are now behind us, and we all want to have a better, more prosperous 2015. Yet for all of the RESOLUTIONS people will make, very few of us will actually keep them, change, grow, and shift into a healthier way of living, loving and leading in 2015.
Why you ask?
It's simple really. It's not that we don't want to do better and live better. We do! It's that we often don't know how to get there. In my 40-something years of living, I have found what I call the "silver bullet" to leading a happier and more peace-filled life: You/me must be intentional about making peace with what is past in our lives. We must be intentional about releasing anger. Releasing regret. Letting go. Cutting what we couldn't untie. And accepting that not everything we have been through, not every relationship that failed, or every person who rejected us will come with that much desired "closure" we all seek. Closure is great if you can get it, but more often than not in life you will NOT get closure, the answers or the apologies that you rightly deserve.
Your joy. Your happiness. Your living only comes to life when you can make peace with what is past.
Let me explain.
Most of our pain, angst and hurts in life come from our childhoods, or our young years where we were not in control of our own destiny. When we could not make our own choices. We were under the love and protection of our families. Of our communities. Our churches. Sadly, so many of us were wounded by the very people who were supposed to love, support, lift, and nurture us. And it haunts us still. No matter how many degrees we have, or things we have accumulated we are still that small child or young adult wondering why did this happen to me? And we have been carrying that pain, that guilt, that shame, and that regret around for decades. It's time for you to Shift and cast that pain. Cast that regret. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. And move toward the life that is waiting for you.
Here are five simple steps you can take starting today to begin the healing, releasing and cutting process of things from your past. Getting peace is something that doesn't just happen. Peace is something you must fight for. Peace makers are actors. They DO! They SHIFT. They pursue peace. Peace keepers are passive. They stand still. They wait. They keep the status quo. You want to be a peace maker. You want to guard your heart and your peace at all times. Here is what I have learned to do in my own life, and it has helped me to become a much better, happier, and fulfilled human being:
1.) You must recognize that you are stuck in the past. Listen to your words. What holds your heart. Are you always speaking in past tense "what used to be" vs. "what can be"? What are your emotional triggers when someone brings up the past: sadness, guilt, fear, anger? Or calm. Peace. Do you constantly think about what you missed? What you lost? Who left? If so, you are stuck and you need to own it, talk through it and shift forward.
2.) You must accept what you cannot change. This one was so hard for me. It took me years to get it. I want to control everything. Most type As do. But I really like to control because my childhood was from hell. Violence. Anger. Alcoholics in my immediate family. Fighting. Cursing. I had no peace as a child through my teens. No stability. So I like to control my environment now. I had to accept that I could not change my childhood. And that people cannot be controlled. I had to begin to accept my needs and honor them, however. Understanding that I was the only person I could control. There is freedom and power in accepting what we cannot change.
3.) You must actively release regret, guilt and grief. Regret. Guilt. Excessive sorrow will break your heart and kill you. If not physically (which it can) emotionally and spiritually. Do not carry or give birth to these triplets of doom and despair. They must be worked through, acknowledged and released.
4.) You must forgive your offenders and then forgive yourself. This is hardest of all. But the only person we hold in prison when we don't forgive is us. Our offenders either do not know or they don't care. When I started to understand that truth, I learned to extend grace, cover people, and release them to God. Forgive yourself for taking so long to release, and cast away people that hurt you. Forgive yourself for not teaching people how to properly honor and treat you. Forgive yourself for letting them stay in your life or your heart for too long. Forgive yourself for ignoring those glaring red flags. Forgiveness is how we begin to FLY!
5.) You must learn how to turn your past pain into purpose. This is huge. Pain is fuel as my sister Dr. Vikki Johnson likes to say. My greatest lessons in life have been learned in my valleys not on my mountaintops. My deepest revelations, growth and power have come from my failings. My wounds. My grief. It's all in what you do with your past that determines how you will end up in your future. Your pain has purpose if you will be brave enough to use it. It's time for you to shift and go out and share your story so that others might succeed.