Seven Steps to Making Peace With Your Past

“Don’t let the past steal your present.” – Cherralea Morgen

Everyone has a “past,” and that past may affect your current life more than you realize. Your history may involve unacknowledged childhood abuse, religious trauma, excessive bullying, or something else, but we’ve all got baggage that needs to be addressed to see our brightest tomorrow. 

People who refuse to address their past often (unknowingly) deal with self-sabotage. When presented with an exciting or profitable opportunity, they often run because they fear failure. 

Once you address the trauma, you will become better equipped to pursue life’s opportunities. The bottom line is simple: Dealing with your past is essential for a successful life.

Acknowledge the Source of Your Pain

Begin by acknowledging where your pain originates. You must first find what’s causing your problems to reach your true potential. 

Set aside 20-30 minutes (or longer if needed) to think about and write down all the baggage from your past. Sometimes the pain source is well-hidden in your past, and you must dive deep to find it. Other times, the cause is obvious. Whatever the situation, identifying the problem is essential.

You’re not creating this list to dwell on your past problems but rather so you can begin to release them. Be honest as you make your list, and don’t try to hold anything back.

Be Patient With Yourself During Healing

Understand that you won’t work through the weight of your past in a day or two. The process can sometimes be lengthy, so give yourself patience and grace. 

You may also struggle with questions of “why.” Allow yourself to accept that you may never get the answers you want and that it is okay not to understand it all – this is another great step in making peace with what has happened to you in the past.

Watch Out for Negative Thinking

Negative thinking has plagued us all at one time or another. Being mindful of negative thoughts is a great way to manage emotions and reactions. When these are in check, you will be better equipped to take charge of your future.

Unsuccessful people choose to dwell on their negative thoughts, often about past situations. However, successful people learn how to channel and overcome them. They may have negative thoughts and acknowledge them, but then they decide to leave them in the dust and move on. 

The more you learn to recognize and manage your negative thoughts, the more successful and joyful you will become.

Look for the Silver Linings

“I’m thankful for my struggle because, without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon my strength.” – Alexandra Elle

There will be storms throughout all of our lives. But like a thunderstorm, the sun eventually peeks out from behind the clouds, creating a silver lining.

Take a moment to look for the silver linings in your past trauma. No matter how bad the situation was, if you look hard enough, you will find some small token of positivity.

Focus on Positivity

There is no “end” to positivity once you let it take hold of your life. There are so many ways you can choose to focus on the positives in your life, but here are just a few:

  • Plan for your future. Think about what you want to accomplish and decide how to get there. While you cannot change the past, you can change your future!
  • Work to create an encouraging environment around you. Negativity begets negativity, so surrounding yourself with positive people can influence your life for the better.
  • Remind yourself of your current blessings. While you did experience painful things in your past, think about what you have to be grateful for today. Even if you are still struggling, there is always something for which to be thankful.

Forgive Yourself and Others

The next step is often easier said than done, as they say. But forgiving yourself and others is essential to making peace with your past. Many people cling to their past hurts and hold grudges, but real growth comes from accepting the past and forgiving when needed.

Forgive yourself first, then try to move on to other people who have wronged you. Did you know that forgiving others can reduce blood pressure, pain, anxiety, and depression? The benefits of forgiveness far outweigh any advantages of hanging on to those resentments. 

The forgiveness process may take time, so be patient with yourself as you work on forgiving yourself and those who have hurt you.

Practice Journaling and Meditation

Journaling and meditating can help you feel less stressed as you overcome your past. Take a few minutes each morning to write your thoughts in a journal. There are no rules for journaling, so let your pen take you wherever your heart leads you. Write about your past, current feelings you’re having, and ways you’re going to make the future better.

Don’t forget to take a few minutes to meditate, also. Meditation can look different for different people: it may involve prayer, deep breathing, or simply sitting in a quiet space. These activities will help you overcome your past and reach your true potential. 

Final Thoughts

For more information on overcoming your past and thriving in any storm, check out Bill Murphy’s recent book Thriving in the Storm: Nine Principles to Help You Overcome Any Adversity

“…You have three choices when the storm hits. The first is to give up and become a victim. The second is to do what you can to survive. But the third… is to learn how to thrive in the storm.” -Bill Murphy


BILL MURPHY, the author of THRIVING IN THE STORM, is a nationally recognized mortgage originator who has been a top producer for 25 years. Since 2017, he has served as a business coach for the Fairway Ignite program. From 1993 to 1998, he worked as a juvenile counselor for the Department of Youth Services in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Murphy is a marathoner, ultra-marathoner, and Ironman finisher, and he has a second-degree black belt in Krav Maga. He has raised over $500,000 for the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, and actively supports several charities, including Fairway Cares, The American Warrior Initiative, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He is the founder of the nonprofit Thrive Foundation. Murphy has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Worcester State University and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Framingham State.  You can learn more at

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