“Your past doesn’t determine your future except you allow it. Don’t empower your past to discredit your future.” – Layi Adeyemi
One of my greatest fascination, something that drives me to constant study is the subject of personal and social transformation.
I’m hungry for insight, I want to know how men and societies pick themselves from the quick sand of destruction and make the ascent towards the mount of transformation.
Over the weekend, I read a TED transcript of a man named Shakar Senghor, an ex-convict who picked himself up from the shackles of prison to become a teacher at the University of Michigan, having a fellowship at MIT Media Lab and working with at-risk youth in his community.
Sincerely his story forced me to think about people who allowed or are allowing a past they are not proud of to determine their future.
I want you to know that you are not your past. Your past don’t determine your future except you allow it. You can be a man or woman of transitional character, one who determines a new kind of history both for yourself and your future generation.
This is my conviction. And I beg you, do not consult your history or past experiences to believe this truth.
Our beliefs shape our destinies in a very profound way. Your belief will eventually become your truth.
The only thing I want you to believe when you are done reading this post is that you can change, you can still have a great life. I want you to believe your life can still matter, that you can still find love again even if you have had history of abuse and wrong relationships.
Albert Einstein said,
“It is better to believe than to disbelieve; in so doing you bring everything to the realm of possibility.”
Let me share a few insights, I got from Senghor’s story and from my own reading and personal experiences to help you begin your journey of freedom from the past
You can’t change the past! No man is wealthy enough to buy back the past. The best we can do is to make peace with it but never be defined by it.
Don’t live in denial of your past. Yes it has shaped who you are in someway. Consider it as your unique story. Choose to use your mess as your platform to walk others out of their own mess. Your best story is hidden in your mess and your greatest failure as long as you choose to rise above it.
Starting now, receive courage to rise above your past mistakes, destructive habits and failures.
One of the ways to restore your sense of inner peace is to apologize to those you have hurt. Those who have been affected by your actions in some way.
Apologizing shows you now understand the impact of your action on others. It shows you understand their pain. In reality, your apologies might not be able to alter their pain but it will be therapeutic for you and the receiver even if they don’t accept it at first.
Choose to let go of the baggage by acknowledging your sins, your mistakes. Confession, which is a true agreement that your actions were wrong is humbling but it is the first step to healing. It might be hard but there is no other way.
3. Forgive yourself
You can never make up for your sin. You will never come to that point in which your balance of good deeds outweigh your past. It is a wrong motive to do this simply just to feel good about yourself. I have fought this feeling numerous times myself.
If you are going to be inspired to do great and noble deeds. Let the inspiration come from knowing that this is who you genuinely are. Let it be that you are allowing your highest and best nature to find expression, not trying to make up for your sins.
You will be having constant internal conflict and the change won’t feel real. It is another form of bondage not true transformation.
4. Choose to help others
When your motive is not false penance, you will naturally experience a desire to help others avoid your past experiences. You will feel a sense of mission from life to help others live better than you did.
If you find this nudging in your heart. Don’t ignore it let it come forth.
I believe Rick Warren when he said,
“Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts. The things you are most embarrassed about, most ashamed of, and most reluctant to share are the very tools God can use most powerfully to heal others.”
5. Find mentors and accountability partners
As you try to heal from your past, you will struggle and it’s normal. It takes time to heal from the damages caused by the past. This is why I encourage you not to walk alone.
Find a mentor maybe a minister, coach or teacher who is credible and can be trusted. Let them walk this journey with you. Sincerely you are not self sufficient and you need all the help you can get. If you were you would have steered clear of the mess in the first place.
Always know that whatever you can’t talk about has you under its control. So shake it off.
It’s OK to let go of your pride and share your struggles with a trusted friend, a mentor, someone, who in Stephen Covey’s words will be a light not a judge, a model and not a critic.
Avoid those who will judge you or consider your confession as tasty trifles for gossip.
You know what I have come to see – a lot of people have not sinned because they lack opportunity or were not exposed to certain circumstances. Their test will humble them to see that pride goes before a fall.
I will never forget what I read in Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest,
“… the one who criticizes another is guilty of the very same thing. God looks not only at the act, He looks at the possibility…For instance, do we believe this statement, that the things we criticize in others we are guilty of ourselves? The reason we see hypocrisy and fraud and unreality in others is because they are all in our own hearts. The great characteristic of a saint is humility Yes, all those things and other evils would have been manifested in me but for the grace of God, therefore I have no right to judge.”
6. Read Inspiring literatures
Nothing has the power to inspire to nobility and greatness like the biographies of great men who have picked themselves up from the ashes and emerged a phoenix.
Read the books of the men you want to be like. Study the habits that facilitated their greatness. Look for patterns in their lives that intersect with your own experiences. See how you can borrow their wisdom to rise above your own circumstances.
Sincerely, my life would have fallen apart if not for the encouragement I have found in books especially the all time best seller, The Holy Bible. I have derived nourishment from it in times of cluelessness, despair, struggles with sin, failure etc. I have always found it especially relevant to point me in the path to peace and righteousness.
7. Give love a chance
The greatest power available to heal you is love. Choose to walk in love for love does no man any harm. Read Apostle Paul’s definition of love in 1Corinthians 13. It is the best definition I have found.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable and to love others. The moment we choose to love, we should also make peace with the fact that we can be hurt. As long as we are all imperfect people, we will hurt each other but there is no such thing as safety in love. It’s for the fearful and they will never know what love is.
A fearful heart in love is selfish because it’s greater focus is on what it can get not what it can give. So it sees love as a transaction, weighing it on a balance of scale. Anxiety comes when they feel the balance is tilted towards them.
The best kind of love happens when two people are actively pursuing how to give their 100%. It is powerful.
More importantly, allow others to love you. Not everyone is out to hurt you. That’s a warped mindset. You won’t get what you don’t believe you deserve. Believe you are lovable and allow others to love you. Stay away from those who belittle you or who makes you feel like you are a 2 out of 10.
8. Strive for peak performance
One of the greatest forms of power is a life of peak performance. Strive for a life of mastery and greatness at the things you love to do, for in it lies your greatest power for healthy self-esteem and a life of contribution.
People sometimes take to crime, self destructive behaviour, sexual promiscuity because they don’t feel they are good at anything or are worth much. They instead channel their energy into self sabotaging behaviour. But you will never find inner peace and lasting satisfaction in your addictions.
Don’t allow what a parent, teacher or community told you to define you. Don’t allow their voices become a megaphone in your mind, drowning the still and gentle voice of greatness within you.
They might have told you you won’t amount to anything or you are just useless, not lovable or worth much. See you are wrong for believing them.
Henceforth, only listen to the voice of greatness within you. Rise up and take charge. You are not a victim. Stop complaining. Get up and put in the work. Make greatness happen. You won’t become valuable to society until you see some value in yourself worth cultivating.
Truth is you have an intrinsic worth separate from your past, your background or the society you came from. Believe this truth and let it liberate you.
9. Live a life of contribution
Until you become valuable to yourself, you can’t live a life of contribution. Until you are able to help yourself, you can’t help others.
You will never truly be happy until you offer your life in service to something far greater than your own needs. Don’t be selfish. Achievement is the beginning but it is not enough. What are you going to make happen for others?
Our greatest accomplishment should be the lives we have touched, the people whom we gave the permission to achieve greatness simply because we allowed our lives to be a light, testifying to the greatness that is possible in the human spirit.
10. Cultivate your spiritual life
This is my own personal conviction. I believe we don’t exist for ourselves. I believe there is a higher power, God, who created us in love, wants the best for us and knows we will achieve our best when we align with his principles.
Don’t become a law unto yourself. There is a power that is sovereign, unchanging and eternal that is at work in the course of human life. Even if you don’t believe it, it is wiser to respect it.
Cultivate your spiritual life. Love all men regardless of religion, race or philosophy. Appreciate those who are different from you. Don’t become a bigot in anyway. You can be a reformer but not a overzealous and sectarian crusader of your beliefs.
Seek the companionship of those who share your beliefs so you can help deepen yourself in your conviction and foster your spiritual growth.
Let’s have a conversation
In what ways are you allowing your past to hinder your future? Do you now believe that with these tips, you can rise above it? Which of the ten ideas impacted you the most?
As you move to the remaining half of 2014, choose not to allow your past determine your future. You can have a new future starting today. Would you make that choice?
I believe in you.
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