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How many of us are letting our past destroy our future happiness?

It’s time to let go of our past pain and trauma.

A new year has arrived, and so has the opportunity to move on from some of the things that hold us back.

We’ve all been hurt, we’ve all had life come at us so fast we don’t even realise how much it destroyed us at the time. Sometimes it can take years for us to process what happened and see the damage done in those whirlwind moments. Some aren’t so quick, others are subjected to situations that drag out for years, changing our very core of existence forever.

Some have a tough time coming to terms with their sexuality, others the reaction of their family and peers. Then there’s relationships, life in general, bereavement, domestic violence, abuse, bullying… The list, unfortunately, goes on.

How many of us are letting our past destroy our future happiness?

Emotional and psychological trauma can shatter our very existence. Unfortunately, so many in our community turn to alcohol and drugs to hide how we’re feeling, masking our emotions. That doesn’t help long term. It can make things a lot worse, but we’re all guilty of self-medicating in one way or another.

We all need to take a step back and decide whether our past pain and trauma is holding us back.  Getting in the way of relationships, friendships, growth and ultimately our happiness. Sometimes we can carry on as normal for years, not realising how hurt we are ourselves. There is no shame in not realising the full extent, we don’t always see how deep it goes until we find ourselves struggling.

One thing that a lot of people don’t always realise is we do have a choice. We can use it as a reason to stop living, we can use our trauma and pain as a shield, or we can use it to become the strongest version of ourselves we’ve ever been.

I’m no stranger to pain and my world falling apart around me. I’ve gone through and survived an abusive childhood, becoming HIV positive, being attacked, being cheated on… But I’m still here, and you know what? I’m happy. It took work, tears and time, but I got there.

One thing’s for sure, pain does change us. We don’t always go back to who we were before we got hurt, and that’s not always a bad thing. We just have to remind ourselves that pain and trauma don’t have to define every fibre of our being.

Not all of us will be able to let go of what happened to us, a lot of us won’t. But we still need to learn how to live with it, and not let it chip away at our happiness and our future. Life isn’t about chasing a happy ever after, it’s about being content in the day-to-day, finding your happiness on a daily basis.

We all have the duty to try to not let the actions of someone who hurt us years ago affect how we live our life today, even if we’re the ones that caused the pain to ourselves. So many of us hold on to that suffering, not realising until we find ourselves back ten steps in that same horrid place in our head.

Working through trauma can be scary and painful. But getting through it can be one of the best things you’ve ever done. Take it from someone who knows.

What can you do about it?

Happiness after trauma doesn’t just happen on it’s own. You have to make the choice to move on and get past what happened. It never really leaves you, but you can learn to use it to your advantage.

  • You don’t have to talk about the trauma, but you do have to accept you’re hurt.
  • Know your triggers, know what takes you back to that place in your head.
  • Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, but know when enough is enough.
  • Decide what you’re going to do about it, and stick to it.
  • Ask for help, and make sure you have someone to talk too.

There is no shame in seeking help, a lot of us won’t be able to move on fully without speaking to someone else, and that’s OK. Sometimes just saying things out loud can help put things in order.

Others find peace doing a mindfulness course, volunteering, making new friends or joining a support group. We’re all different. But once you’ve admitted to yourself something needs to change, the next steps often reveal themselves.

Remind yourself of this: You are not what happened to you, and you are more than your pain. It’s OK to go back a few steps, feel some things. But remind yourself of how far you’ve come, changed and grown. Go get your happy back. You can do this.

Follow Tom on Twitter – @TJ_Knight

Related: Is loneliness the gay man’s curse, or a product of 21st century life?

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