Face the Consequences
We Can't Magically Dissolve the Past
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | May 2018 (edited January 30, 2022)
We live in the present. The past lives in us but does not determine our future. We can face the consequences of the past and create a better life.
Sensitive childhood emotions don’t simply dissolve with a little insight. A wise guide may help identify origins of dysfunctional reaction, but the destructive action may continue, leaving an imprint on our souls, and inviting hurtful consequences into our lives. Noble insights only give a deeper understanding of causes. They don't resolve the issues nor dismiss the consequences.
Growth Requires We Face the Consequences
We still must face the consequences of the past, whether from our choices or those of trusted others; experience impacts our lives and casts a shadow on our futures. The long challenging work of change is still necessary. Stubborn childhood issues and destructive adult choices challenge healthy resolves throughout our lives. We must battle against internal resistance to achieve lofty intentions.
Yet, with self-directed compassion and effort, we can—with time— live effectively despite impoverished childhood and destructive choices. The emotional marks etched in our brains may still unpredictably resurface, wreaking havoc; the consequences of behaviors may linger; but instead of crumbling, we can stand-up, stick out our chest and move forward, beginning a new era of power, seeding the fields of our future with purpose and hope.
Integrating the Past into a Bright Future
We must—if we are to succeed—weave the past into the tapestry of our present. The past will always be a part of who we are—including how we feel. The many threads of abuse and choices may be a different color and texture than what we would prefer; but with guidance, skill and patience, we can artfully blend what is into our desires of what we want to be.
Perfect pasts are not a requirement for healthy, joyful presents. Perhaps, to easy of a past, where too much was given, also interferes with the realities of a grown-up life. We may be unaccustomed to facing consequences of imposing environments and sketchy choices.
Growth and eventual success demands we courageously face these consequences. We must stop blaming, dodging and avoiding the consequences of the past and find effective action to repair the harm.
Key Definition: Facing the Consequences
Facing the consequences is bravely working through the current conditions of our lives. Our inner and outer worlds are largely consequences of the past. We can't dissolve the past but can weave it into better futures.
Mistakes Part of Learning
Childhood’s prepare the individual for a long-life of self-sufficiently. The demands for existence in human society are complex and dynamic. No childhood imparts perfect wisdom. The adult, recently freed from the nest, must test skills, make adjustments, and practice new approaches. We survive not through perfect training but effective adaptations, flexible to changing environments, and continued guidance from respectable teachers.
During this long process of maturation, we make plenty of mistakes—and with those mistakes come with consequences. Just because the behavior was not intended or the lesson has been learned, does not excuse us from the consequence. We can't magically dissolve the past. The error remains, the consequence must be faced.
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.
Creating a New Set of Consequences
Childhoods, behaviors in the past, and trauma are already in the past. They fall within the realm of the things we cannot change, we can dwell on their negative impacts, but still must face the consequences they present in the present. Our response is the things we can change. This precious moment of our lives—the present—molds our futures, projecting a new set of consequences that can be enjoyed. Here we make choices, here we act, here we feel pleasure and suffer pain.
Often unfavorable consequences demand extra work in the present; but we can face them, repair the damage, work through the difficulties. As we face consequences, we broaden our vision, establish better relationships, and achieve those wonderful dreams of something better.
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