3 Powerful Words To Embrace When You're Ready To Heal From Your Past

Anger adds fuel to the fire, unfortunately, that fire will never heal you.

Last updated on Apr 16, 2024

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My mother was 5 feet tall, weighed 102 pounds, and was nicknamed "Aunt Meanie" by my older cousins. When you believed something had been forgotten, she would bring it and hash through every painful detail of a perceived betrayal.

When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, there were many hours of conversation about how she had been treated during her life. It was clear she was unable to forgive anyone she believed wronged her.


Though we think of anger as something that can be fueled by adding to the fire of it, it reduces the energy we have for living a life based on love. To heal the past and live differently, we have to embrace an opposite perspective. 

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3 words I've embraced in order heal myself and build a better life 

1. Acceptance

This isn't about diminishing what has happened in your life. For many of us, the situations outside our control traumatized us as young children. We can't change the fact we were abused by people who were supposed to care for us. I can't change the fact my mother was mentally abusive.


What I chose to do was to accept that it happened and understand I can’t change it. That's living proactively.



2. Awareness

Put yourself in their shoes. One of the keys has been creating awareness of my mother's life. I looked at how she was abused by her older sisters and had her heart broken by a boy when she was 17. She was never able to break free from the fear that kept her playing small when she believed she deserved a big and bold life.

The awareness and understanding of what happened in her past to make her bitter and angry helped me loosen up a bit of the burden she has upon my heart. My mantra around those trying times has been: "She did the best she could with what she had."


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3. Choice

You get to choose where you put your focus and your energy. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose courage. You choose fear.

Proactive people recognize they are "response-able." They don't blame genetics, situations, or conditioning for their behavior. They choose their behavior.

Forgiving doesn't mean you have to forget

For a long time, I would beat myself up for not being able to "forgive and forget". But we can forgive without forgetting because to forget would be tossing aside the lessons learned. Forgiving doesn't lessen the fact that you have been hurt in the past. It simply means it has no power over you any longer.




RELATED: Why I Refuse To Forgive Anyone In My Life, Including My Mom

Healing means integrating it all together

Healing is something that takes place in stages. Sometimes the scar tissue is so thick and dense that getting through it becomes so incredibly painful that we want to quit.

It doesn't mean you aren't meant to move forward. It just means you are evolving and growing and reaching. I've come to understand some pieces of you may never heal.


It's not that you're flawed. Your soul is saying you aren't meant to forget every painful part of your past. Instead, you are learning to integrate your past with your present.

feeling content leaning off the balcony for fresh airPhoto: Aleshyn Andrei via Shutterstock

Allowing yourself forgiveness is so much harder to do than the extension of forgiveness to others. Sometimes, we believe we are at fault for being treated poorly.


When you are stuck within the trap of perfection, then, darling, you will withhold forgiveness from the person who most needs it: you. So, how do we receive forgiveness and forgive ourselves? The same way we forgive others. We remind ourselves we do the best we can with what we have.

We extend ourselves grace. It's time to release those demons of the past and lean into the process of healing and integrating.

When it comes time to leave this earth, do you desire to leave it holding grudges, or will you allow yourself to be surrounded by love?

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Debra Smouse is a life coach and author whose work has been published in TIME, Huffington Post, MSN, Psychology Today, and more.