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So, you reviewed the past, and found a couple of issues you want to delve into a bit deeper. Now what?

I never met anyone without a story about their growing up years being far from perfect. (Did you walk five miles to school every day, barefoot, in the snow?). Some problems are colossally huge, others just a pimple on a duck’s butt. We all have them.

If you’re the oldest sibling, you felt responsible for everything, thought you had to be successful and set examples for everyone and were the one punished when something went wrong. Middle children were ignored and the baby of the family was spoiled. No matter where in the birth order you fall, there are “issues.”

Did your parents’ disapproval cause you feelings of guilt? Were you left alone at a young age? Was there physical or emotional abuse in the home? If we don’t develop a sense of self-worth by about age 6, school days are difficult and believe everyone else has a better life than us.

My family was extremely dysfunctional but I never wanted friends to know how bad life was. I tried to “pretend” my way through school for 12 years. I walked out the door in the morning, pasted a smile on my face and made other people laugh hoping they didn’t see belt marks on my legs. My best friend and I shared secrets about boys and played outside but we never went inside each other’s house. I thought it was because she knew I came from a terrible home.

In my 30s, we ended up in an Adult Children of Alcoholic Parents meeting together and I discovered she never invited me inside because HER mother was always passed out drunk on the kitchen floor. Moral of this story: Our thoughts about what people thought of us wasn’t accurate in the first place. Let go of all those past hurts and embarrassments.

Life might not have gotten any better during young adulthood. You experienced feelings of rejection, believed you didn’t make the most of opportunities, thought everyone had a better life than you did and you deserve to be miserable now. The thing is, it’s never too late for do-overs.

Determination and a plan can change anything.

If you’re reading this, sitting in a recliner, full of despair and bitterness because life treats you unfairly, stop and realize what we think becomes reality. We can change our attitude by changing our mind. It’s never too late for a fresh start. Yesterday is finished, tomorrow isn’t here, you are breathing and thinking so, anything’s possible.


Letting Go of the Past in 10 Easy Steps

  1. Forgive yourself. Whatever guilt and resentments you are holding on to, let go now. If that means confronting someone, DO IT.
  2. Get rid of unworkable relationships. I don’t care if that person is your mother, from today forward, they can’t affect your life. My husband does it this way: He pretends to put a plastic, seethru bubble around himself when dealing with people that might be irritating, then sits in his bubble and smiles.
  3. Live in THIS moment only. Forget what happened yesterday, don’t think about tomorrow. Live right here, right now.
  4. Count your blessings instead of troubles. Be happy and content today.
  5. Smile, even when you are alone. Smiling effects our disposition and happiness follows.
  6. Go outside. Talk to people, watch the birds, listen to the wind. Feel the air. Life is good.
  7. Remember, you are not 5 or 18 or even 30 anymore. Who you were, at different stages of life, disappeared from everyone’s brain but yours.
  8. Reinvent yourself. Learn another language, take up pole dancing (haha) read to children, become a political activist.
  9. LOVE yourself. Liking who you are makes a huge difference in the way others treat you. If you are religious, regard The Golden Rule as if you are the person most in need of your kindness.
  10. Make a plan. Putting thoughts on paper help make dreams a reality.

Therapists charge a great deal to help you resolve past issues and develop positive goals for the here and now. Since you just got a year of therapy free, go buy yourself something new and smile.

Questions, comments, criticisms? Contact Dianne at

Dianne Devoll Hotvedt is a motivational speaker and writer with 50 years in the field of health care. She lives happily in the woods with her husband and various critters.

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