to overcome

10 Ways to Overcome a Painful Past

In 1986, lead in gasoline was banned. Immediately, lead levels in the blood of Americans fell by 80%. But because lead is notorious for not leaving the body, Americans today—more than 30 years later—still have more lead in our blood than people did a century ago. Past actions are still causing physical harm and to overcome it, we must be intentional.

Just like lead in gasoline decades ago causes physical harm today, our past actions can cause emotional harm today, too. But there is hope.  Here are 10 ways to overcome a painful past.

1. Talk about the hurt with someone you trust.

Be honest and be yourself. There is powerful medicine in sharing the load. Acknowledging hurt does not make you less of a man.

2. Don’t evaluate yourself in terms of your past.

Your hurt does not determine who you are today or who you can be tomorrow.The past can hold us back if we allow it, but the past does not have the power to define us. Your hurt does not determine who you are today or who you can be tomorrow.

3. Make a commitment to (always) learn and move forward.

Leverage the past to launch a more positive future, kind of like in karate. Use the opponent’s blow as your strength by shifting the momentum to secure a brighter future.

4. Live in the truth of the present.

Light is always stronger than darkness. Today’s joy speaks the truth about the impotence of yesterday’s pain.

5. Work tirelessly to provide your family with a present that will never become a hurtful past.

Use the memory of your hurt as motivation to protect your family today. Were you hurt by unfaithfulness? Be faithful now. Did you grow up in an abusive home? Saturate yours with love. Did you live in fear? Provide security to your family today.

6. Get involved in efforts to help others heal.

Reach out to people who also have experienced hurt. Be generous and loving. Open your heart.

7. Be 100% honest in your relationships.

Making sure you’re always upfront with your spouse opens the door for breakthroughs, both in the present and about the past. Honesty is not only preventative but restorative.

8. Learn how to pray.

Healthy family relationships promote healing, help us to move through hurt from the past, and serve to head off a repeat performance when it comes to pain. Prayer takes that same principle to another level and connects us to resources we must use if we are to overcome hurt.

9. Count your blessings.

It’s good to unearth hurt so we can deal with it. But it’s also important to pay attention to joy. Joy doesn’t mask pain—joy deals with it.

10. Be like the bionic man—stronger in the broken places.

Sometimes, after a wound heals or a broken bone has been knitted back together, the human body is actually stronger than before. This doesn’t happen by magic, or by chance, but in response to acknowledging the hurt, allowing others to care for us, believing we are healed and stronger than before, and living without chips on our shoulders.

Sound off: What from your past is affecting your life in the present?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What can I change so you trust me more and feel safe around me?”