How to Stop Your Past From Shaping Your Future

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Our most fundamental years for growth occur before we are even five years old. During those years, it's safe to say the majority of us were taken care of by another able human. Unfortunately, while many of us were thankful to have our physical needs met, we may not have been able to tend to our emotional needs. Maybe there was not a nurturing mother, an emotionally present father, or maybe we had no parents at all. Maybe we were raised by our siblings who had no idea how to raise a child. The good news is that none of this has any bearing on who you will become.

Sure, our former years undoubtedly impact the person we are today, but we're not sentenced by our parents’ efforts by any means. We are, in fact, who we choose to become. The problem is, if we don't ever know we're enough for ourselves, we may never know what we are capable of becoming. So, how do we get there? The answer can be difficult, but rather simple—we become whatever we consider ourselves to be. Yes, quite frankly, it's all about our own perception of ourselves.

What I've learned is to the degree we accept responsibility for making things happen for ourselves, and soothing ourselves, that is the degree we will be enough for ourselves.

Here’s how you can finally take the wheel and carve out your own path in life.

1. Be fully responsible for your emotions, behaviors and outcomes.

This may sound like a simple sentiment, but not everyone really shoulders responsibility for themselves. I lived quite the opposite way until recently. My belief was that much of what happened to me was because of external circumstances. I made excuses and never really accepted the blame. Yes, I would say, "I did that," but in the same breath, I wouldn't accept the consequences. I know. It really is as awful as it sounds.

I also realized that when I was angry or fearful, I had a tendency to look beyond myself for consoling. This really freaked me out because I reminded myself of a crying baby. I literally didn't know how to soothe myself and face my emotions. Then, as I began to understand why I had a hard time facing my emotions, I also understood why I felt I was never enough—it's because I truly believe I wasn't enough for myself.

The way I was acting, I wasn't allowing myself to be enough in times of deepest fear, anxiety or anger. I wasn't allowing myself to be enough in the worst of circumstances. Instead, I was always looking for a way out when I really should have been going through all of the emotions. I wish I learned this sooner, but I'm happy to say, I finally put my big girl pants on. Now I choose to be enough for myself and console myself with my own thoughts of reassurance and an unwavering belief that I will only be okay because I choose to be okay.

2. Be truthful with yourself.

One thing I've learned is that there's a difference between being honest and being truthful. Honesty is acknowledging what exists. Take, for example, thoughts and feelings. I am being honest when I say I feel unloved, but that is not being truthful. Being truthful would be saying, "I know I feel unloved, but the truth is I am not. I feel unloved because I have a hard time accepting myself."Wow, see how deep that got? That's what it takes to be enough for yourself—digging deep and acknowledging the hidden things in your heart, so you can unearth them and make them known.

Then, once they are made known, you can console yourself by affirming the new truths. Now, instead of saying, "I feel unloved", I say, "I feel unloved, but I am loved and I am worthy because it is who I am."

3. Be comfortable with yourself.

Another way to be enough for yourself is to accept yourself fully. The good, the bad, the ugly, the pretty, the nice—all of it! Embrace it all because it's all you got, and just because you are something at this point in time doesn't mean you will always be this way. Remember, you are not your flaws. You're not even your strengths.

You are you because you are created in God's image. You are you because you're a soul who was created to love and be loved. It takes practice, but take care to be you unashamedly. Laugh when you want to laugh, cry when you want to cry, do what makes your soul sing and come alive, because that is you.

No matter what you were or weren't taught as a child, know that being enough is an identity. We are enough because it's who we are. It's not in what we do, what we say, or what we achieve. What I've learned is to the degree we accept responsibility for making things happen for ourselves, and soothing ourselves, that is the degree we will be enough for ourselves. But, here's the catch—even when we fail ourselves and aren't enough—it still has to be enough. We still have to accept ourselves as we are because ourselves is all we have. Only we can decide to have a life—a present—that fulfills every fiber of our being.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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