How to Reframe a Painful Past

How to Reframe a Painful Past

How to Reframe a Painful Past


We spend so much time dwelling on our past.

We analyze it. We relive the pain. We repeat the patterns.

We allow it to determine our feelings of self-worth.

Sometimes a painful past becomes so deeply imbedded within us that we live in response to it every single day. It controls our thoughts and actions, our relationships, and who we think we’re capable of becoming.

We drown ourselves in pity. Why did X, Y or Z have to happen to us? Why couldn’t our life had been like so and sos? Why weren’t we loved more fully?

We can spend years in therapy trying to understand it. Picking apart the words, actions and raw emotions we experienced until there’s no mental stone uncovered, but still never feeling quite healed.

Sadly, some people stay stuck in the framework of their past forever. Never able to break free of the mental chambers it created. Never really emotionally moving forward.

But it doesn’t have to be that way…

The Truth About Your Past

The truth is, there’s nothing you can do to change it. And there’s nothing you can do to change the actions or words of the people in it or the tragedies that came with it.

As unfair as it may have been, as brutal or depressing, it happened. And it can’t be undone.

But the other truth is, whatever harsh things you experienced, whatever ways you were victimized, you didn’t deserve. And if those harsh experiences are still robbing your present life, you don’t deserve that either.

You deserve far better. The past is always going to be part of your story. But it’s up to you to determine the role it plays in your future.

A New Perspective on the Pain You Carry

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What if instead of viewing your past as a tragic story of suffering, you view it as a necessary part of your destiny.

What if your past was exactly what you needed to go through, as hard, painful or tragic as it may have been, to become the person you were meant to be.

What if instead of feeling like the victim of your past, you view your past as the story that was necessary to lead you to your triumph.

What if everything in your past was perfectly engineered to give you the strengths, perspectives and compassion needed to live the life you were destined for.

That’s not to excuse or condone anything that may have happened to you. But you can live stuck in feelings of past injustices, or you can empower your future by reframing the role your past plays in your life.

Reframing your story to one of empowerment can change everything.

The Power of Perspective

You can be a victim. Or you can be a survivor.

You can be full of broken pieces. Or full of wisdom and depth.

You can deem yourself forever worthless. Or you can honor your innate worth and unique strengths.

Perspective is everything.

Whatever you may have gone through in the past, you can find a way to use it to empower your future.

Our time on Earth is short. And you have a purpose to fulfill. Your past is very likely the key to that purpose.

So accept your past as part of your destiny. Use the strengths and tools it’s given you. And allow your past, however painful, to empower your future.

What strengths have the painful parts of your past given you?

Please share this post with anyone you think might benefit from it <3


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12 Responses to How to Reframe a Painful Past

  1. I needed this today . 🙂 Thank you. <3

  2. Thanks for this wise post, Liz. Perspective IS everything. Some of the strengths I’ve gained from a painful past: courage, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, and creativity I never knew I had. 🙂

  3. Kate P says:

    I had a terrible experience going to school as a child, but about a year and a half ago I met the love of my life–he recognized me because we rode the bus to school together all those years ago.

  4. Laverne Ramirez says:

    I learned to have compassion towards myself.

  5. Blaine Wilkerson says:

    Your advice about reframing tragedy reminds me of something we nurses offer to patients with terminal and/or life-changing diagnosis (everything from HIV to Diabetes):

    Instead of “Dying from ______ “,

    you are “Living with _______ “.

    It’s a choice. A tough choice. But a choice nonetheless. Choices = power over your situation…your life.

    One thing that’s haunted me for decades is how to forgive — even when you don’t want to.

    Not sure sure there’s an answer to the “don’t want to” caveat. But I’ve learned the secret to forgiveness in general:

    It’s a choice.

    I choose to forgive and tolerate the loved ones I want in my life. They still have faults and get under my skin, but I ultimately choose to accept, tolerate, and forgive them.

    And for those I don’t want in my life (eg, ex-girlfriends, back-stabbing ex-best-friends, bus-throwing co-workers), what about them? I choose to forgive…and forget them. I “release” them from any perceived emotional debt. Emotional debt such as apologies, confessions, and explanations.

    The results?

    Peace. Wisdom. Tolerance.

    Thanks for this Liz!

    • Liz says:

      Hi Blaine! I relate to so much of what you said about forgiveness, and not always wanting to. It really is a choice, and sometimes you need to make that choice over and over again. It can be hard, but when you empower yourself in that way it does bring so much peace, like you said. I love how you help your nursing patients with their mindset. Thanks for commenting Blaine! 🙂

  6. Beautiful and insightful. This was a paradigm shift for me. ✨

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