Anyone who has an older home knows that renovation is a work in progress.  It never ends.  Often, we fail to apply the same common sense when it comes to our emotional house.  For some anger, bitterness, resentment and disappointment are hidden structural components in their emotional make up that twist responses and warp relationships continually.  No amount of superficial cosmetic repair will remedy what requires a complete renovation.

You can never leave the past behind until you’ve done the work required to repair the structural flaws that create your present.  When the Israelites wanted to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem they had to clear out the rubble first before they could complete their renovation; “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there isummer 2009 and engagement 134s so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”  (Nehemiah 4:10)  In the many years that I have renovated my older home I have always had to strip down the walls right to the frame in order to rebuild properly.  So it is with rebuilding our emotional house.

Some say don’t dwell on your past – you can’t change it.  True!  And it is also true that you can’t use your past as an excuse for your present behavior!  If you do then you are reliving your past at your own expense and everyone else’s.  “When you proclaim that your problems are a direct result from incidents rooted in your past, your argument gets weaker every day.  It’s true that everyone needs recovery time to heal from painful or traumatic life experiences, but they aren’t to be used as a lifetime pass for making excuses.” (Life Reboot)  An Alcoholic Anonymous’ bit of wisdom says; ‘Recovery begins when you stop blaming others’.

Recovery from your past begins when you stop using it as an excuse for your present behavior.  Recovery from your past begins when you start understanding how your past trauma and pain has scripted your present responses to situations in your life.  The key is not to try to change the past but understand how your past affects you today.  This understanding is the key to changing yourself!  You can’t walk away from your past because its ghosts will always haunt you until you deal with them.  How?

A good place to start is to look at what makes you angry.  Anger often covers past hurt; “Erroneous beliefs are beliefs and defenses we build up and replay with anger so we do not have to know the truth about our self. They are called errors of thought or cognitions.” (Lynne Namka)  Look for how anger tricks your thinking process.  As I discussed in an earlier post, I used to get furious when people parked their cars on my lawn during our summer fair.

When I really looked at that anger I found that it was based on old past hurt and resentments over being bullied as a child in school.  I believed that people today when they parked their cars on my lawn were ‘bullying’ me.  I believed that they were deliberately trying to disrespect me and it made me furious.  This anger was linked to a lie in my life that everyone was out to pick on me.  That’s not true.  People who park on my lawn just want to be close to the fair grounds.  They may be inconsiderate but they don’t have anything against me or wish to ‘pick on me’.

Once I understood this I could handle my anger much better.  I cleared out the rubble and  developed a healthier response.  I put up a ‘please don’t park on my lawn’ sign and stopped feeling furious.  I changed positively!