An excerpt from “Get Past Your Past”
What if the things you believe about yourself aren’t completely true?
What if you’re more than what you’ve been labeled?
What if that thing you did in the past doesn’t define your future?
We’re all broken people; that’s just reality. We all will mess up, do things we regret, and fail. We all have parts of ourselves, our histories, our behaviors, and our experiences that make us feel broken, but are we as broken as we think?
What I’ve learned working with counseling clients and going through my own therapy is that sometimes truths we firmly believe about ourselves aren’t true. Sometimes “the way it is” isn’t the way it is. Being aware that these truths—whether they were told to us by someone else or we told ourselves—might not be true is often the key to making changes and gaining confidence.
Early on in my career while I was going to graduate school to become a therapist, I worked as a real-estate appraiser for my wife’s real-estate company. It made sense for us to work together, so I pursued a licensure and began joining her on appraisal inspections.
One day after measuring a house, we returned to the office, where Jodi reviewed my measurements. They were way off.
Thankfully, Jodi is a stickler for detail, so we went back to the house and she asked me to show her how I measured it. I puffed out my chest and showed her how to measure a house correctly.
A smile spread across her face.
“What?” I asked.
Jodi showed me that there are two sides to the measuring tape. I had used the wrong side, marked in centimeters rather than inches.
Even though I had measured the whole house and seemingly done everything correctly, the results were, well, wrong. I had used the wrong side of the tape measure, so all my measurements were off. The answer I was so sure about wasn’t actually right.
I wonder how often we do this in our lives. How often do we measure ourselves with a tape measure that is no longer, or never even was, accurate for our needs? We’re at the right house, going through all the right motions, but using the wrong measure, and all the results are skewed.
In such a case, we need a Jodi. Someone else, someone who knows the truth about who we are, who is able to carefully and specifically tell us why our way of measuring ourselves isn’t accurate. We need to be able to respect and trust the person telling us these truths. We need to be certain they have our best interests at heart. When someone cares enough to tell us the truth about ourselves, we need to be willing to turn over the tape measure, then to measure again. We need to look at changing what we believe about ourselves. Although this doesn’t sound difficult, it’s rarely easy to open ourselves up to a new way of thinking about and talking to ourselves.
Although it’s tough to flip over the tape, when our friends help us see that we are better than we’ve measured ourselves, we build confidence and form deeper relationships. Believe it or not, the best relationships aren’t the ones where you’re told to simply carry on as you’ve been doing. The best relationships are the ones where people are willing to tell you the truth regardless of how it might make you feel.
When we find relationships like this, our world gets bigger and brighter, not just because we see ourselves in a new light but also because we see others with the same objectivity and grace.
The key here is simply the willingness to examine our beliefs about ourselves. You might conclude that the belief is true or that it might just be slightly different, but at least consider questioning it and talking to other people about that belief. What you’ll find is that we all have these things hanging in our hearts, and we rarely talk about them. But if we’ll talk about them, we’ll often find that someone else believes something similar about themselves too, and we’re not alone. Maybe it’s time for them to make a change too. Or maybe they’ve dealt with that belief in a healthier way than how we’re dealing with it, but we’ll never know if we don’t talk about it. The challenge here is identifying the pictures you have hanging up in your heart and choosing to keep them up or take them down. I know that my life changed dramatically when I took down the sign that said “Jason’s childhood ruined him” and replaced it with something more accurate.
Every so often it’s important to look at the things we tell ourselves about who we are and figure out where these beliefs came from and if we want to continue to believe them. Sometimes we’re right and the way we see ourselves is accurate. Other times, we are wrong.
Here’s a secret that my experience has taught me: you’re probably not as broken as you think.
Taken from “Get Past Your Past: Get Past Your Past: How Facing Your Broken Places Leads to True Connection” by Jason VanRuler. Copyright © 2023 by Solomon Recovery. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.
- Read “Get Past Your Past: Get Past Your Past: How Facing Your Broken Places Leads to True Connection” (Zondervan, 2023) by Jason VanRuler.
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