Personal Effectiveness

Getting Past Your Past

Hang-ups Impede Lasting Growth
Note: This was an internal email for our clients, but many said it helped them & encouraged us to post it up, so here it is. It's not our usual business growth story, feel free to skip if you're here for business related stories but if you stay, you may just find something in it for you...


Hi Folks,

This is my most personal article(& likely the longest) to date...

I have worked with business owners from all walks of life for almost 18 years when I wrote this. Throughout those 18 years, I met many who have not dealt with their past emotional hang-ups... This affected their abilities to be the most effective they can be as a business owner, leader, spouse, parent, son... Whichever role(s) it is that they play in life today.

I hope by sharing one of my biggest hang-up and the lessons I learned the hard way, it will help some of you(if this is relevant to you) to move past your own hang-ups & be more effective in your lives.

A couple of months back during a routine catch up session with a fellow coach, something he said unintentionally triggered a flood of memories... All the negative “stuff” related to a particular incident I thought I have gotten over resurfaced.

I am glad it happened because it made me look at things from a fresh perspective, gained over the years of working on myself and working with others. It allowed me to appreciate the lessons learned and to finally move past my biggest hang-up, permanently.

I dated this girl in college where things didn't end well, but it was what came after that shook up my life irreversibly. I was dragged in front of the church pastor (who said he knew “everything I did because she told him”), I was accused of threatening her, the pastor threatened me with police report & ex-communication from the church (he went as far as saying if I were to go to another church, he was "obliged" to write to the other church to "let them know what I did here", a ridiculous threat coming from a pastor, but back then, I knew nothing about criminal intimidation or slander). Several days later, a church senior came to my home, insisted on coming in and then proceeded to "advise" me (in front of my mother no less) and thereafter, I got calls from other members telling me I was "uninvited" to their weddings, etc, because of "what I did".

Absolutely no one bothered to verify the facts, I became an overnight pariah, I left the church, rented a room away from home (the church was 10 min away from my home, most members stayed nearby) & started fresh.

I didn't realize it at the time (because I was upset no one questioned the plausibility of the stories which rational people will find illogical) but it was the turning point in my life for the better, let me explain:

1. It was a negative relationship where I was constantly told by my ex-girlfriend she didn't believe I was capable or able or qualified to have the ambition I had (which was to do what I am doing today)... Once I was out of the relationship, I realized being surrounded by people who didn't believe in me or supported my goals was energy draining & de-motivating. I started over after moving out to a new place and expanded my social circle. In my new circle I found mentors (senior business people), I invested all my extra income in trainings to better myself & started my first business 3 years after graduation. It would most probably have taken me longer to start over or to explore doing business if something extreme like this didn't push me to make positive changes in my life, so I am thankful now for I got a fresh start, which I didn't know I needed.

Lesson: Do not surround yourself with naysayers or people who don’t believe in you or support your goals and ambitions. 

2. I was the speak-my-mind, “black & white” person while she was the “PR” person, ie, I speak my mind frankly (and most times, not “sugar-coated” and at times spoke in a detached/confrontational/harsh manner) so I tend to rub people off the wrong way while she on the other hand always found something nice & flattering to say to everyone she met. While it was difficult to see then, it’s easy to see now why others were so fast to judge me based on hearsay without verification (Heck, I probably would have believed her myself at that point in time if I was the pastor or one of the others). I learned I can be uncompromising in principles and yet be more tactful in expressing myself. I didn't realize the full positive impact of that change until an incident many years later, where a disgruntled client tried to spread rumors only to be shot down by every client he spoke to & even a competing coach he approached told him off & said there was “no way” what he claimed can be true. It was a complete reversal from what happened before at the church... If I had not learned my lesson & made the changes I made, I probably will not be able to do what I do today.

Lesson 1: I can tell people what they need to hear i.e. the truth, but in a way that is easier for them to accept and work on, extremely important in my industry. 

Lesson 2: I do not want to be the person that "everyone likes but nobody knows", I think that is a very lonely existence, I'd rather stick to my principles & be genuine, even if it costs me some business, clients or friends.

After I reflected on how this experience was in fact the turning point in my life for the better, it no longer felt like a hang-up... I took the time to drop my ex-girlfriend an email expressing how much I appreciated the happy times, the lessons, my regret at how things turned out, took responsibility & apologized for my part in it, congratulated her on her recent successes and ended it by wishing her to live a good life.

Once I clicked 'send', symbolically, it was finally over for me as from that point onwards I can only appreciate the positive lessons & outcomes.

In conclusion, these clichés are indeed true:

  1. There is a positive side, a silver lining, a lesson(or lessons) to be learned from every bad experience.
  2. Working through & letting go of past hang-ups allows a person to move forward; not doing so prevents a person from living life to the fullest.

So if you find yourself unable to live life fully; or you know you are held back by some bad past experiences in any areas of your life, here are some questions that might help you:

  1. What is your hang-up (or hang-ups), which is holding you back from being the best you can be? Be completely honest with yourself.
  2. What can you do about it today in order to move past it? For example, can you write, can you have a dialog (imaginary or real dialog, both works, imaginary if the person is no longer around), what will set you free of the emotional (or mental) burden?
  3. If you find it challenging to do it on your own, whose help can you seek? Can you get a coach, a counselor or a mentor, whichever appropriate?
  4. In what ways are you a better person today because of that past experience(s)?
  5. Express your appreciation for the experience (or the person) that has made you a better person and move on from it, TODAY!

Finally, commit to yourself that you will live a full & awesome life!

The FBW Team

4 thoughts on “Getting Past Your Past

  1. I was googling how to move past your past experiences and somehow it lead me here.

    I can accept and relate to everything you wrote except the last statement on appreciating people who hurt us for making us better. I think that is too idealistic and not something a real person can do.

    1. Hi June,

      Thanks for commenting, I wrote this back in 17, glad to see it reached you.

      Let me clarify – it’s about appreciating the experiences and how each experience shaped us into who we are today, it is not about “them” or “us”, if you get what I mean.

      Thanks once again for dropping by, live an awesome life!


  2. Thank you for sharing. I had a similar experience which affected me for years but your story made me realize I achieved a lot because of it.

    I think I can thank the person silently in prayers without the emotional baggage.

    1. Hi Lindsey,

      Thanks for commenting & well done! A man much wiser than me once said,

      “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

      Live an awesome life!

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