Be The Person Who Breaks The Cycle – Your Past is Not Your Destiny

The greatest gift that we can give to ourselves and give to others is to heal. But healing is difficult. In part because it means that we have to find a way to step out of conditions that hold us down, trap us in behaviors that we know are not healthy, and prevent us from becoming who we really are.

Life is a story. But it is a narrative that we write.

Somehow, we have to find the energy, courage, support, and determination to break free from the past. We have to remember that we have self-agency. We may not control others or all of our circumstances, but we control ourselves. We can make a difference in our own lives.

Sometimes, we just need to write a new chapter.

Our pain is often our best teacher. It gives us the drive and commitment to find freedom, protect others from what we have been through, and to look at the troubled world with compassion.

I ran across this; it reflects this perspective.

If you were judged, choose understanding. If you were rejected, choose acceptance. If you were shamed, choose compassion. Be the person you needed when you were hurting. Vow to be better. Heal instead of becoming bitter. Act from your heart, not your pain.

This call to compassionate action reminds me of the Prayer for Peace widely attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. For those who are not familiar with it, it begins…

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

We can use our past and our pain as a reference point. They can remind us of what we do not want and what we do not want to be. But they also guide us. Everything has an opposite. We can look behind pain, loss, suffering, and isolation to find joy, serenity, and connectedness.

But it requires that we act. We must make action the companion of awareness. We must not let the past and our pain tell us who we are. They can only tell us who we were. It is up to us to find our true identity and to write our own story.


James McGinley

James McGinley

James E. McGinley, PhD, is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, Certified Life Coach, and adjunct professor teaching counseling psychology at major universities for over 14 years. He was trained in Positive Psychology by some of the leading researchers in the field, including Dr. Martin Seligman, the originator of Learned Helplessness Theory. He is the author of six books covering topics such as coping, stress management, and cross-cultural adjustment, several research monographs, and over a dozen journal articles. For more insights from his blog and access to his books visit

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