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Defining yourself by past hurts, only perpetuates damage; you are far more than the sum of your painful experiences

It’s hard to achieve success in life. Most often it takes a lot of work, some degree of talent and sure, a bit of luck. The thing is, not everyone is willing to put in the time and effort required to achieve real and lasting success.

Not everyone is willing to put aside the fun and focus squarely on their goals. Many people think that it should be easier to get what they want. For most of us, though, it’s not that easy.

If you know someone who’s unwilling to do what’s necessary in order to achieve a measure of success, you can be sure that at best, they’ll end up with an average sort of existence. And this is where the excuses come in.

People will spend an awful lot of energy thinking up reasons for their lack of success. If only they put in half as much energy actually working toward their goals.

Taking responsibility for your life:

Some people want to believe that they were unlucky in life or that someone or something interfered with their success. They’ll look around for who or what they can blame.

Some of these people will look to their past and say, legitimately, that they’re the victim of childhood trauma, or an adult child of alcoholic parents or perhaps a survivor of abuse. The problem, though, is that they’ll use these experiences as excuses not to do the work necessary for their success.

All of these experiences are terrible to be sure and they leave emotional scars, but what they don’t do is absolve a person of their adult responsibility to stand on their own two feet.

A person needs to deal with their hurts and losses of the past, but they shouldn’t use these hurts as reasons for not working steadily toward their goals.

When you identify yourself as an “adult child,” “survivor” or “victim,” you’re making an interesting choice. You’re saying that the most significant fact about you is that you’re wounded. You’re defining yourself by the worst things that happened to you in the past.

You could choose to define yourself through your positive attributes, such as “Alice the artist,” or “Joe with the great sense of humor,” or “Rose the brilliant worker,” or “Barry with the huge heart.” When you focus instead on the bad things you lived through, your identity becomes rooted in the negative and it becomes much harder to achieve positive goals.

Maybe these bad things did happen to you in the past, but they’re over now. You didn’t have a choice about what happened to you in childhood but you absolutely have a choice about what you do as an adult and it’s your responsibility to make the best choices possible, moving forward.

A person needs to do whatever it takes to move beyond the hurts and losses of their past. You should work on healing your emotional wounds – perhaps through counseling or therapy – but that doesn’t mean you should hold on to the identity of someone who’s wounded.

Defining yourself by your positive attributes:

After all, do you want to be defined by the bad things you lived through or by all the great things you’ve accomplished and the amazing parts of your personality? I know which version I’d prefer.

When you focus on yourself as a wounded person, your confidence can’t grow; your self-trust can’t develop; your skills can’t evolve. You’re practically dooming yourself to failure.

And then when you do fail, you have a built-in excuse: “I’m wounded; I’m a victim of my past.” But who wants an excuse for failure? Wouldn’t you rather put your energy toward learning the tools for success?

Being identified as an “adult child,” a “survivor,” a “victim,” keeps you stuck in a negative conception of yourself. You can’t succeed; you can’t thrive, because that would be contradicting your notion of who you are and what you’re capable of. In this way, your built-in excuse for failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Letting go of the “victim-mentality”:

The victim-mentality is a no-win psychological defense mechanism. The truth is that you don’t ever need an excuse for your “inevitable” failures, because your failures aren’t inevitable. You need to trust yourself and believe in yourself.

You need to give yourself credit for your accomplishments, no matter how small, and you need to forgive yourself for your mistakes and use them as learning experiences.

You need to build skills, gain confidence and see that even though you might have started out with certain disadvantages, through working on yourself you can come out stronger and more self-assured and far more compassionate than those who had it easier than you did.

It doesn’t help that it’s become acceptable in our society, even trendy, to be a wounded individual. We’re almost encouraged to lead with our negative labels, but that has never made anyone happy or successful.

The victim-mentality has never served anyone. It’s time to see that defining yourself by your past hurts is perpetuating the damage. You’re much, much more than the damaged product of your past hurts.

You need to look more often toward the bright future rather than back at the bleak past. You deserve to see yourself as the amazing, infinitely capable being that you truly are, so that you can be your best self and live your very best life.

About the Author:

Dr. Marcia Sirota is not about quick fix overnight solutions. Marcia helps transform individuals, employees, managers and executives into superstars by enabling them to overcome mental blocks and obstacles and helping them to bounce back from adversity. Connect with her on : WebsiteFacebook and Twitter

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