midlife, personal growth

Mind Shift: Choosing Not to Be Defined by Past Hurt

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Is it time for a mind shift?

By the time we get to midlife, nearly every one of us has been through emotional trauma.

And so the real question is, are we allowing the pain to keep us stuck?

Sadly, some of us have experienced severe and deep wounds, the kind that come from emotional traumas like having an abusive parent, sexual violation, or the loss of a loved one. For others it may have been more subtle or cumulative, like being bullied, having an overly critical parent, demeaning spouse or degrading boss.

This is heavy

A friend told me recently that the subjects I write about are often deep and heavy. I can’t help it. It’s what I feel. Not that I’m deep and heavy all the time, but heartfelt matters seem to be what I frequently feel compelled to write about.

My hope is that by throwing light on these topics, it might help myself or someone else – like you.

Let’s go deeper

We often joke and have casual discussions with friends and acquaintances, but it’s not often we go down deep in conversation to the darker, heavier feely kind of subjects. Which may be why I think it’s easier to express and digest these topics through writing and reading.

I’m not a therapist nor do I have qualifications to give advice on how to get past deep traumatic hurt. I do however believe, and have seen, that we can either allow these hurts to define us and keep us stuck, or choose to evolve and grow, despite the pain.

Like a tree that has lost a limb or suffered a deep, life-threatening gash. The signs of loss and hurt are often visibly on the surface. If not visible, they are certainly deep within leaving a permanent mark. Even decades later. There’s no denying it or forgetting it – that’s not the goal.

The goal is to gain strength from your capacity to survive and use that strength to mind shift, to grow and thrive despite the emotional damage.

Gratitude despite loss and pain

I was listening to an interview yesterday and the person being interviewed was explaining how without pain and loss, we can’t fully appreciate the subtle joys in our everyday life. Not that we should wish for traumatic experiences, but when we’ve experienced them, it gives us perspective.

We can’t be fully grounded in gratitude and feel the goodness in life without having felt the sharp edges, the struggles. Without having had to tap into our capacity to survive.

“I told her once I wasn’t good at anything. She told me survival is a talent.” – Susanna Kaysen, Girl Interrupted

Survive and thrive

My grandmother died when my mom was seven years old. As the oldest of three sisters and having lost her youngest sister to disease not long before her mom passed, my mother was introduced to pain and loss at a young age.

The harsh stories of her sister’s and her mother’s deaths came up regularly while I was growing up. It was obvious how horrific and deeply life-altering these losses were for her. Yet, it put all the other difficulties in her life (and it was war time, so there were many) into perspective.

As she became a wife and mother, she was incredibly strong and determined to not sweat the little stuff. She was practical and tough, yet kind and charitable. She lived her life accepting the pain of her past but not letting it stop her from finding meaning and purpose.

And more than that, she was sensitive to the suffering of others and taught me what it meant to be benevolent, like caring for an elderly neighbor and by giving what we could to those who had less.

Feeling loss, gaining perspective

Suffering great pain in our past can debilitate and continue to nearly choke the life out of us, even decades later.

Or we can use it to understand ourselves better and become stronger. To become more keenly aware, and grateful for, moments of kindness, love and peace in our life.

We can allow abuse and loss to emotionally starve us and keep us from being able to receive abundance and joy. We can permit it to prevent us from being able to feel like we are ever enough or worthy or whole. Or we can choose to see the pain, feel the scars, and still grow, receive and evolve.

The objective is to face the past hurts and show ourselves compassion. To heal, not to forget. Trying to bury the past will not fix it.

Shine light on it

A mind shift, however, can help.

Talk about it. Write about it. Even just to yourself. Or to a counselor, therapist, doctor, or supportive and trusted friend.

No matter how long ago the painful events happened. It is a part of you. A survival story – your survival story.

A thread in the quilt of your uniqueness. An element of what makes you, you.

It’s your choice to seek out your truth. To find strategies to get unstuck and continue to grow, scarred but strong and beautiful, like the tree without the limb.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” – C.S. Lewis

Start where you are. It’s the best place to begin.

Do the work

Lead yourself on a mind shift journey beyond survival, to continued growth and healing.

Stop letting your scars define who you can be and what you deserve today.

Decide to not allow that pain to choke the breath from your lungs or to shade sunshine from your life.

Change your ending. You are capable of amazing things.

Have the courage to love yourself, keep perspective on what is the little stuff, and enjoy the magic in your life today.

“Many people may be to blame for your unhappiness, but nobody is ever responsible for your unhappiness but you. This is because you always get to choose how you see things, how you react to things, how you value things. You always get to choose the metric by which to measure your experiences.” – Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k

You are a survivor and you can set the world on fire with your gifts! It’s never too late!

Be kind to yourself (and to others).

You never know who needs your light, your warmth, your courage and your kindness.

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking

Happiness is an illusion. It’s the mindfulness and gratitude for the moments we experience and the good we allow ourselves to enjoy, despite our history, that has meaning and keeps us grounded.

To those of you who have suffered but continue to look for light and for continued growth and personal evolution, this is for you:

“Like a flower in the desert
I had to grow
in the cruelest weather,
holding on to every drop of rain
just to stay alive.
But it’s not enough to survive,
I want to bloom
beneath the blazing sun,
and show you all the colors
that live inside of me,
I want you to see
what I can become.”
Christy Ann Martine

With that, I wish you forward motion and the courage to mind shift.

Sending you boat loads of healing, light and love. –  Marlene

P.S. Sooooo deep, I know! Maybe I do need to lighten up!? I will try to write on a topic less heavy next week!


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2 thoughts on “Mind Shift: Choosing Not to Be Defined by Past Hurt

  1. That was beautiful and inspiring. Deep, yes, but not too deep! LOL It made me sit and reflect on my past, present and future. I love reading your blogs…keep them coming. I love you, your bestie, Car

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