One of the things I love most about coaching and connecting with people is hearing their stories. We all have such unique journey’s in this life, and I truly believe that every experience we are handed is done so for a greater purpose.

I struggled big time when I was in school; I couldn’t learn the way they were teaching me. I felt embarrassed, ashamed and stupid. I faked my way through it.
I was an only child and so desperately wanted to connect with everyone around me; this lead to a lot of confusion, hurt feelings and loneliness.
I quit my amazing career on the same day I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant. Left the city as a single mom-to-be and moved back to my small town to live with my parents; I essentially started from scratch.

This isn’t about comparison; this isn’t about anyone’s pain or experiences being worse or more significant than another’s. Because we have all our things. Regardless of the depth and breadth of the situation, we’ve all dealt with things that were painful…traumatic….or veered us off course in someway or another.

We’ve all felt pain; it’s part of what makes us so incredible as human beings. The scope of emotions that we go through, both good and bad, that tells the stories of our lives.

And while we can’t control the painful situations that happen to us, we can control what we do with them.

Remain caged. Broken. Bitter. Trapped in the prison of the experiences you have been through. Or we can find freedom. Gratitude. Release. Charged by the experiences you have been through to push forward in a stronger capacity.

And, like everything in life, it’s a choice. I’m not saying it’s an easy choice, but a choice. It is possible for you if you have a little faith in the process.

In the latest episode on the Change by Choice show, let’s break down what it really takes to go from caged and trapped by our experiences to that freedom; to that place where we can use our painful past to really build ourselves a stronger future moving forward. Listen to Episode 46: How to Use the Pain From the Past to Create a Stronger Future over on itunes, spotify or podcast addict.

So let’s talk about our past; we’ve all had our own individual journey that has paved the way for us. And whether those experiences were good or bad, they have nonetheless shifted our perspective on life, love, people, trust and how we show up for ourselves and for others in our lives. I see people deal with hardship and struggle in two ways: either they become caged by it and they become really hardened by the experience or they use their experiences as fire and momentum to show up and serve in a new capacity.

What does the latter person have, that the other does not?
What does it take to really be able to USE our past and have it serve us better in the future?
What does it take to not only heal from our past, but to learn from it and use it to build a better future for ourselves and those around us?

It starts with acknowledgement. You have to recognize and acknowledge the experience, the pain and what you have gone through. Nothing good ever comes from avoidance and if you really want to move past the hurt and into a stronger future, then you need to acknowledge what you are dealing with. You’ll need to have those conversations, open those wounds or admit your mistakes. The past has happened; what’s done is done. There’s no changing that. But what you do have is a blank slate for the future; you can control that.

Next is gratitude. Gratitude for everything in life, even the trauma, the hardships and the struggles. If you can start to position yourself in a way where you can find the positive in every situation and you can see the silver lining in the darkest of times, it changes everything. It takes a lot of journaling, reflecting and giving yourself the time to sit in those moments…sit with those bad feelings. Instead of just automatically reacting, victimizing yourself and putting those walls up, give yourself time to process. I’m not saying immediately after a traumatic or painful experience you should be expected to all of a sudden see the gratitude and the silver lining within it. Depending on the experience, this could take weeks, months, years; that’s all part of what tells our story.

But you need to decide for yourself what’s going to be best for you moving forward in your life. It’s a choice that we make. I can tell you this; in my personal experience, the moments that have created the most heartache and pain in my life have been the most life changing and defining moments that have helped me move forward with more strength, more conviction and more clarity in my life.

Why? Because at some point, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to be caged by those experiences and that I was going to work to find the gratitude and the silver lining hidden within the pain.

When we ignite meaning and purpose into the things that we’ve been through, it allows us to break free from those cages; no longer are we trapped in the prison of the experiences that we’ve been through. With that, comes so much strength and clarity; you take back the control. You become so clear that although the wounds may not be your responsibility, how you choose to heal and move forward IS.

Finally, decide what you’re going to do with it. How can you take those lessons that you have learned to help build a stronger future? Maybe you want to help other people that have gone through a similar situation, maybe you want to share your story, maybe you want to coach people and serve the world? Or maybe you just want to be a better role model for your children. Maybe you just want to be a better version of YOU moving forward: more present, more compassionate, more patient, more engaged, more empathetic. There is no right answer here; it’s whatever feels best for you. But we have such an opportunity here to not only better ourselves, but those around us. Don’t take that for granted; you are handed the experiences you are handed for a greater purpose. Purpose isn’t just one singular thing that you’re doing in life; it’s how you show up in life. Take what you have learned, take that gratitude, take those experiences and use those to guide how you choose to show up in life.

I hope this starts to get the ball rolling for you if you’ve been stuck or holding on to something that you’ve gone through. I promise you this: if you start to consistently view things in your life as blessings and choose how you’re going to use them to help you be the very best version of yourself you can be…you will level up in every single area of your life.

For more content and to access my free downloads (including a great journaling guide that will really help you in this process), join my free members lounge here:

Originally published at