October 7, 2020

How To Get Passed Your Past

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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Today’s topic is a bit of a soul crushing, wake up, and maybe even cry episode that will provide you a path forward in processing your past, so it doesn’t negatively affect you today. Getting passed your past is the first step to a better future.

As a Coach, I help my clients see their thinking. I help them understand how they are being held back and how they can move forward. Coaching is all about acknowledgement, processing, and moving forward.

You could call it thinking, feeling, and healing. Learn how you can use this process to overcome any limiting beliefs or challenges you are having that are holding you back.

What You’ll Learn

How to overcome trauma from your past that is holding you back

How to know if an experience from the past is impacting you now

How to change your negative thoughts and free yourself

How to prevent your past from impacting your goals and relationships today

Featured in This Episode

Apply for 1-1 coaching at www.melissamlawrence.com/apply

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Hello and welcome!

Today’s topic is a bit of a soul crushing, wake up, and maybe even cry episode that will provide you a path forward in processing your past, so it doesn’t negatively affect you today.

Many, if not all of us, have some sort of past experience that haunts us. It is something that either happened in the past that we aren’t able to get through and it is impacting our current reality, or maybe it’s something that hasn’t gone away, and we continue to struggle with it.

Some of my clients come to me to work through this, to get past it so they can finally live life on their own terms, live life they created for themselves without these feelings or experiences haunting them.  Whether it be a troubling relationship with family, abuse, feelings of abandonment, dealing with the effects of divorce, and so on.

And to clarify, I’m not a therapist, nor am I trained to diagnose or treat mental illness so there is a clear line there between therapy and coaching.

As a Coach, I help my clients see their thinking. I help them understand how they are being held back and how they can move forward.  Coaching is all about acknowledgement, processing, and moving forward.

You could call it thinking, feeling, and healing.  

The goal for my clients is to not let their past affect them today.  To empower them to make decisions that are connected with their true authentic self, and not out of fear, limiting beliefs about their capabilities, or low self-esteem. So, they can see how amazing they truly are and that they do have the power to overcome their past and their thoughts about it. The clients that do this work and are open to letting go of their past and their beliefs that are keeping them stuck, go on to thrive and see life beyond their hurtful past circumstances.

Truth be told this is a personal subject for me.  I had my fair share of dysfunction growing up between my mother, who is lovely, and has the biggest heart, but suffers from alcoholism, and a father who wasn’t capable of being present in my life.

I’ve done this work for myself and I help my clients do the same.  It is one of the hardest topics to get coach on.  It is emotional and sensitive and causes you to question your own beliefs, to think about those that hurt you differently, to let go.  Because these situations often have lasting effects, abandonment issues in adult relationships, unhealthy ways of dealing with conflict, poor communication skills, self-loathing, inability to trust others, the list goes on, it becomes part of your identity.

It’s almost as though you can’t entertain something different because you’ve coped and survived, and you’ve done it the only way you know how.

So, to question that, to be willing to let it go, is hard but it is doable and the reward of not living under that cloud, to not let your past effect those that are around you and love you so much, to wake up feeling worthy and that other’s choices are not indicative of your worth, the work is worth that freedom.

For those clients that are having trouble moving forward, it can be helpful to separate story from facts. When you think about the past situation and someone asks you to talk about it, you recite it from memory and include all of the thoughts and feelings associated with that memory.

I want to offer you that it’s the thoughts and feelings you have about the situation that are causing you pain today.

For example, let’s say you have an absent parent.  When you talk about your parent being absent you may share your memory of why your parent isn’t around, how you think it’s unfair, that parents shouldn’t be that way, you may feel awful for your children who don’t have a grandparent around.  You think how someone could be so heartless and not care, they are selfish.

If we were to ask your absent parent, they likely have a totally different version of events, based on their experiences and their pain from their life.  They may say they thought it would be better for them to be absent, they didn’t feel worthy to be your parent.

You each have your own recollection of the reality of you having an absent parent.  The same would be true for your siblings and their version.

This is a difficult concept to understand. What helped me with this is to have an open mind and ask out of curiosity, not judgement, what went into the persons decision.  

To protect the confidentiality of my clients, I am talking a bit more about my story here.  So, an example of this is when I was growing up with my sister, my memory is I was always protecting her, that I put myself in harm’s way to protect her.  What is really interesting about this, is I prided myself on this, this was part of my story and identity that contributed to how I thought and felt about my childhood and my relationship with her.  I assumed she knew I had done this, even though I never told her, and when You think about what I did – protecting her from seeing or experiencing things I did, how would she know?

Yet, when I was on the phone with her a few years ago, we were reminiscing about something and somehow this came up and she said something that indicated we had the same experience.  It was triggering for me. How could she think that? I’ve protected her? I always have. See how that can happen?  She has a different memory of the same events than I do.

My thoughts about those experiences, shape how I think about myself, how I think about her, and those experiences.

So, the story I told myself, wasn’t the only version, and didn’t need to shape all of those perceptions or me, didn’t need to carry into adulthood.  Our brain is so sneaky you guys and it is so hard to see it from inside your own mind.

Sometimes these experiences can be very painful and will bring up a lot of emotion.  What I offer here, is that it is your thoughts about that pain that is causing you to feel so awful in this moment.

If you had amnesia, you wouldn’t be in pain anymore.  Your past wouldn’t be harming you today.  It’s because you wouldn’t be thinking about it, you wouldn’t remember.

If you can agree with me on that, you can see, it’s your thoughts about the memory that are affecting you today and causing you pain today.

We punish ourselves by staying stuck.  What happened in the past, isn’t happening now.  I have a lot of painful memories about events that occurred as a child with both of my parents.  Continuing to think of them in a way that something was done to me and the hurt, keeps me stuck.  Instead, I choose to look at these situations with empathy and believe they did the best they could.  Believing they did the best they could free me.  There may be a different thought that works for you.

I want you to consider that is good news.  That you have the power to separate facts from the story, to look at your thoughts, and ultimately change the way you feel about these awful past experiences.

What I am suggesting is that it is possible, when you are unable to move forward, when your past circumstances whether it be a bad relationship, parent, divorce, or abuse that when you make this mean something terrible about you, when you think this is who you are, someone who is abused, who isn’t loveable, who gets what she gets, it is keeping you in pain.

Accepting what has happened and choosing to move forward is not condoning it.  We are talking about this to get you passed your past, to not let these painful experiences stop you from living the life you want, from having the relationship you want, to not sabotage what you want for yourself.  This can happen by looking at these painful experiences and choosing to be open to thinking differently about them, to try to reclaim your power as an individual.

I want you to be able to stop hurting yourself by reliving these experiences and emotionally abusing yourself.  I want you to be able to stop giving power to these people to influence the way you think, the way you feel, and the way you treat yourself and others.

Some of the way you’re thinking about this is what you choose to focus on.  You know I like to talk about how the brain works so here I’m going to tell you again the brain wants to keep you safe.  It is totally normal and understandable to focus on the negative in these experiences because you don’t want them to ever happen again.  You don’t want to have another difficult conversation with your mother, you don’t’ want to feel rejected.  So, you keep reminding yourself it could happen with her, with others, with anyone. 

If I were to ask you to only focus on the positive.  If I were to say, tell me about your life, only sharing the positive experiences, it would focus your brain on the positive.  Whatever you choose to focus on, you can choose.  You just might have to override that factory setting.

I understand some of you listening may be having an aha moment and others may be having a repulsive reaction.  How could I suggest there was anything positive when you had an awful upbringing that I know nothing about?  I get it, I really do.  I’m suggesting focusing on the things that didn’t work takes away from all the things that did and it is somewhat relative.

There are always other circumstances that could be worse or different and others could feel their pain is the worst pain.

I’m not trying to discount your pain. I’m not condoning people who were hurtful to you.

I’m asking you to question yourself if the way you are thinking and feeling now is serving you. If you are still in pain and there isn’t a diagnosis that would prevent you from thinking differently, I’m asking you to ask yourself, what are you focusing on and is there a way you can think of this situation and the person or people differently?

You get to decide what you want to focus on, how you want to think about the person, and what you make it mean.  You can choose to leave the painful parts in the past.

Here are some prompts you can use to think about your past, to allow yourself to feel, heal, and deal with it.

Think back to the experience that is causing you to pain.

Write out the experience as you remember it.

Try to separate facts from your opinion, takeaway, conclusions…what are the things that all 7.5 billion people would agree with and what are the things that are subjective.

What do you believe about your life?

What do you believe about yourself?

How as your past helped you get to where you are today?

What lessons have you learned?

What do you want to believe about the situation or person?

What do you want to believe about yourself?

How has your thinking about this situation protected you?

How has it hurt you or those around you?

What do you want to change?

I am sending you so much love right now.  If this is something you are struggling with, I understand how painful and raw it can feel. It can even feel out of control, like you do and say things you don’t understand.  

Know that you are enough, you are loved, and you are here to do the work on yourself.  You are capable of growth and healing.

If you have any questions about this topic or would like some help thinking, feeling, and healing, you can reach me through my website at www.melissamlawrence.com.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

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