Posted: December 11, 2020 in: Uncategorized, Pain-2-Power, Personal Empowerment


If you have for some time been trying to muscle through your problems, you’re probably ready to accept that simply being tired of your behavior and wanting to change does not necessarily lead to change.  There is another way, and that involves coming to grips with parts of your past that you have left unexplored.

Imagine if someone were to ask you to start reading a novel beginning on page 125, to continue reading through page 225, and to then write an ending in which the lead character meets with tremendous success.  Chances are you’d feel anxious and unprepared.  After all, you’d be coming to the story midstream, without knowing the character’s motivations, strengths and weaknesses.  “This isn’t my story,” your heart would tell you.  “How am I supposed to make it come out right?”

In order to write something credible and convincing, you’d want to know what happened to the main character in the first 124 pages.  You’d want to know how she had responded to personal challenges, what life lessons she had taken away from her family of origin, whether she had suffered any significant losses, what her parents’ marriage was like, and on and on.  You’d want to know what writers call the character’s back story (his or her earlier life history).  Without this information, you would feel you could not move forward with confidence, that the next chapters you would write about the character might ring true.

When we try to move forward with our lives without a true understanding of its earlier chapters, we ask of ourselves something no less fraught with difficulty.

There’s a reason we turn blind eyes to our own life histories, our own back stories:  We are needlessly afraid that looking at the past, especially the parts of it that are unsettling, will somehow weaken us or take away our momentum in life.

The key is to stop running and start to believe that there are great rewards in store for you if you do.  The truth about your life history—including the strengths and weaknesses in your family relationships, the successes and failures you have encountered, the gifts you received and the losses you sustained—are not your enemies.  They are buried treasures.  They are meant to be uncovered, looked at honestly and learned from, because they hold the keys to who we are and ways we can change.  They tell us what holds us back from being our best selves, reaching great goals and having great relationships.

Our problems aren’t accidents.  Unsuitable partners in romance or business don’t just show up on our doorsteps; we choose them because of ill-formed ideas about what we deserve.  We find ourselves in unsatisfying careers because something early on told us that we couldn’t enjoy work, or make money, or take leadership roles.  Our frustration with our children doesn’t mean we simply are bad parents; it may well mean that our own upbringing contained messages that parenting was a battle of wills, instead of an act of love.

These painful pages of our current and future life stories will continue to be written so long as we choose to ignore their origins in the earlier chapters of our lives.  And that’s why the greatest promise for personal growth is looking in the mirror, in order to see behind you.

Dr. Keith Ablow


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