Dr. Norman R. Wise

Acceptance that I had a Painful Past

I. _________________ had a painful past

II. What Keeps Me From Accepting My Past Was Painful

       A.  This _____________ my family

       B.  This means I am ___________  goods

       C.  I want to be ______________

       D.  I will not be able to ____________

       E.  The past cannot be changed so why __________

       G.  There are people with __________ pasts

III. What is a painful past?

       A.  I suffered _____________ abuse

       B.  I suffered _____________ abuse

       C.  I suffered _____________ abuse

       D.  I suffered _____________ abuse

       E.  I suffered _____________ abuse

       F.  I suffered _____________

       G. I suffered _____________

IV. _______________ had a painful past

V.  A painful past can lead to a ______________ present

VI. It takes ________________ to admit I had a painful past.

My Journal

I.  From birth to ten years old – Significant Events

II. From ten to 18 years old – Significant Events

III. From 18 to 40 years old – Significant Events

IV.  40 to the present time – Significant Events

V.  If you were to give your life a title what would it be?

Small Group Guide

Rule:  Everything said in this small group is to remain in the small group.  Nothing is to be shared again with anyone outside of this group.

I.  What is the main thing you are hoping to gain from coming to the seminar today?

II. What one thing do you think makes it hard for most people to admit that their past is painful or to face what has happened to them?

III. Was there any insight you gained from the journaling exercise that you would like to share with the group.  Did the exercise put anything in perspective?

IV. Which wound of the past do you feel is the hardest for a person to make peace with?

  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Rejection
  • Spiritual abuse
  • Other ________________

Sexual Abuse:  Abuse of a sexual nature such as rape, incest, fondling, and indecent exposure. Sexual abuse can cause various physical and emotional problems including lack of self-esteem, self-destructive behavior, anxiety, and depression.

Emotional Abuse:  Emotional abuse is defined as any ‘act by a person having the care of a child which results in the child suffering any kind of significant emotional deprivation or trauma.’ Behaviors that cause psychological harm include acts by a parent or other person that damage the cognitive and emotional development of a child or young person. The harm resulting from these abusive behaviors can include: emotional deprivation and trauma; the serious impairment of a child’s or young person’s social, emotional, cognitive or intellectual development, disturbance of a child’s or young person’s behavior.

Physical Abuse:  A physically harmed child is a child who is, not by accident, physically harmed by the person in whose care he or she is. It can refer to severe and repeated non-accidental injuries to a child such as unexplained bruises, burns, broken bones and cuts and repeated accidents.

Abandonment:  A parent’s or custodian’s act of leaving a child without adequate care, supervision, support or parental contact for an excessive period of time. Also, the desertion of one spouse by the other with the intent to terminate the marriage relationship.

Rejection:  In psychology, rejection is an emotion felt by most humans when another person denies a personal request, particularly if it is an emotional advance. Repeated rejection (particularly of children) or fear of it, can lead to loneliness and depression.

Spiritual Abuse:  Spiritual abuse refers to the mistreatment of a person who seeks help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result instead of weakening, undermining or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment.


Why do I have to overcome the pain of my past?

Denial:  A defense mechanism that is demonstrated by avoidance of disagreeable realities by the mind’s refusal to acknowledge them at a conscious level. May or may not be adaptive, depending on the information being denied.   www.dphilpotlaw.com/html/glossary.html

I.  We must overcome the pain of the past because past pain is overcoming our present lives through “super coping habits” we call addictions.

II. Addictions happen when our painful past overcomes our present

            A.  Addictions are ingrained destructive “super habits”

            B.  A habit is:

                        1.  Knowledge

                        2.  Skill

                        3.  Desire

                        4.  Persevering Commitment

III. My pain also become a pair on interpretive window through which I interpret all present and future events

M Y   P A I N  


Events and People  


This interpretive window becomes a set of laws, proverbs, or principles by which I make sense of my world.  However, if these laws, proverbs, and principles are false, outdated, or only half truths then my perception of reality becomes distorted, illusionary, and untrustworthy. 

IV.   The pain of my painful past gets me emotionally stuck in an earlier age of emotional and social development.   I find that I am physically an adult but emotionally and socially really a child inwardly.  This leads me to immature and destructive attitudes, words, and actions and an inner world filled with shame, fear, and loneliness.

The Eight Stages of Development

I.  InfancyTrust Vs. Mistrust       
II.    Early Childhood   Autonomy Vs Shame      
III.   Play Age    Initiative Vs. Guilt     
IV.    School Age     Industry Vs. Inferiority    
V.   Adolescence    Identity Vs. Identity Diffusion   
VI.   Young Adult       Intimacy Vs. Isolation  
VII.   Full Adult        Legacy Vs. Self 
VIII.   Maturity         Integrity Vs. Despair

V.  Why ________________ I deal with the pain of my past?

Journal:  Answer the question for yourself.  Why must you overcome the pain of your painful past?

Small Group Guide

I.  People who deny their pain from their past normally choose two ways to express it. 

One way is to be a “turtle” in which they build a hard shell around the pain to keep it inside and at the same time try to keep others away by having a hard exterior.  These folks are normally introverted and not very social.

The other way is to be a “skunk” in which people spray out a lot of toxic anti-social behavior in inappropriate and social situations where they feel threatened.  They become physically, verbally, emotionally, and religiously abusive to others.  They are normally very extroverted and like social engagement. 

Which of these two approaches make the most sense to you?  Which one do you think is the most effective in handling the pain of the past?

II. When talking about these two approaches it is said “all turtles live in microwaves”.  What do you think this means?  Do you think it is true?

III. What are the problems with not overcoming our pain but expressing by becoming either a “turtle” or a “skunk”?

IV. What do you feel is the reason most people try to avoid facing, processing, and overcoming the pain of the past?

How to overcome with my painful past

I.  Identify the wounds you have suffered and the weight of the pain inside

II. Identify how the pain of the past has encouraged any negative “super habits” aimed at protecting you from the pain.

III. Identify any laws, proverbs, or principles which have been formed out of your pain which govern your interpretation of events, relationships, and people.

IV.   Identify at what stage of development you feel you may have gotten stuck emotionally in your life. 

V.  Accept at the core of your being the 100% rule

  • I am 100% not responsible for what others do to me
  • I am 100% not responsible for what others say to me
  • I am 100% not responsible for what others feel towards me
  • I am 100% not responsible for the actions, words, or feelings of others
  • Until I was an adult others were responsible to protect, guide, and help me find maturity.  I am 100% not responsible for their failure.
  • I am 100% responsible for my words as an adult
  • I am 100% responsible for my actions as an adult
  • I am 100% responsible for my feelings as an adult
  • I am 100% responsible to seek healing for my wounds as an adult

VI. Go back in your mind to the wound as an older and more mature adult.   See the wound through mature emotionally balanced wise adult eyes. 

  • What would you say to the child after they have suffered the wound?   What would you say to the adults or others who caused the wound? 
  • How would you bring comfort to he child?  How would you have provided protection, guidance, and help to yourself as a child? 
  • Would you want another child in the same situation to be filled with shame, fear, and loneliness due to the painful event they suffered? 
  • What prayer would you say for the child who suffered such a painful emotional wound?  Pray this prayer for yourself.

VI. Grieve your loss

  • Face and release your anger
    • Against God
    • Against Others
    • Against Yourself
  • Face your doubts, unmet expectations, and dreams that have died
  • Allow yourself to feel sad about what you lost
  • Realize the loss was in the past and you have survived the loss
  • Reconcile yourself to the lost and decide it is time to move on with your life

VII. Use the prayer of release to hand your loss to God

NAU Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

VIII. Use positive meditation to keep a realistic view of the world.

  • True
  • Honorable
  • Right
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Good repute
  • Excellence
  • Things worthy of praise

IX. Reprogram yourself the way you should have been programmed.  Your subconscious trusts your own voice.  You are the trusted interpreter of life.

  • Reject bad laws, proverbs, and principles of life
  • Affirm healthy laws, proverbs, and principles of life
  • This is done through disciplined, focused, and repetitive self talk (meditation)
  • When faced with an event that triggers past pain and fear choose to look at this even through a different group of beliefs.  Use the 100% rule and the healthy theological affirmation to reframe the event and interpret it different. 

X.  Put yourself in a support group which will support your recovery from negative “super habits” and choose new healthy “habits” to replace them.   

XI. Confess to God and to a trusted friend the things you have done to bring harm to yourself.  Accept that God is ready to forgive you in Jesus Christ. 

NAU 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

XII. Understand that past is dry cement and cannot be changed.  Accept the present and future as wet cement that we can choose what we imprint into them.    Accept what you can and cannot control.

  Jesus grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as You did, this sinful world

as it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that You will make all things right

if I surrender to Your Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with You

Forever in the next.



I.  What would be the most important step for you to take to overcome the pain of your past?  What advice would you give to your best friend if they were you?

II. What part of the recovery plan outlined would you find the hardest to apply?  Why?  Is this part important to your recovery from you past pain?  If so, how can you overcome your resistance to taking this step?

III.  Do you have a person you trust enough to share your plans to deal with your pain of the past?  Do you have someone who was not at the seminar who you could share some of these truths with?  By teaching another you affirm the truth to yourself and process it at a deeper level.  To whom could you share this material within twenty four hours to make it more meaningful to yourself?

Small Group

1.  What part of the methods suggested about dealing with your painful past do you see as most practical to people struggling with a painful past.

2.  What advantages does a person who believes in God have in dealing with our painful past? 

What disadvantages or difficulties does believing in God have in dealing with our painful past? 

How can a person handle their anger with God over allowing them to suffer a painful past?

3.  What is the most hopeful truth you have heard today? 

A healthy theological Affirmation for Overcoming Our Painful Past

  • My pain does not mean that God does not love me
  • My pain does not mean that God does not care for me
  • My pain does not mean that God has abandoned me
  • My pain does not mean that God has rejected me
  • My pain does not mean that God has no purpose for my life
  • God will use my pain for good
  • God cries over my pain
  • God suffers over my pain
  • God is angry over the injustice that caused my pain
  • God in the person of Jesus Christ has a painful past caused by injustice
  • God in the person of Jesus Christ has paid for my sins
  • God in the person of Jesus Christ offers forgiveness of my sins
  • God in the person of Jesus Christ offers healing for my broken hearts
  • God in the person of Jesus Christ offers me unconditional acceptance
  • God understands my struggle with having a painful past
  • God understands my anger with Him over my painful past
  • God understand my doubt about Him because of my painful past
  • God is patient with me as I try to overcome the pain of my painful past
  • God wants me to set boundaries in the present which will prevent pain
  • God want me to become free of the pain of the past so that I can reach my full potential
  • God will help me in my process
  • God is with me in my process
  • God walks with me in the midst of my recovery from destructive habits
  • God loves me more than we can ever imagine
  • My experience does not change God’s real love for me
  • My experience does not change the truth of who God really is
  • God is greater than my experience
  • God is greater than the pain of my past

Twelve Steps Towards Reprogramming from the results of our painful past leading to destructive addictions (super habits)

1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions—that our lives had become unmanageable because of our response to the pain of our past. 

2. We came to believe that Jesus Christ is greater than the pain of our past and could restore us to sanity.

3. We made a decision to turn our the pain of our past, our will and our lives over to the care of Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the Bible. 

4. We made a searching and fearless inventory of our past and our pain.  We have sought healing for this inner pain through a healthy process.  We also have made an honest inventory of our own actions accepting 100% responsibilities for our adult actions before the face of Jesus Christ.

5. We admitted to Jesus Christ, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of the pain of our past. 

We have admitted our own wrongs accepting 100% responsibility for what we have done.

6. We were entirely ready to have Jesus Christ heal our broken hearts and help us release the pain of the past. 

We were ready to have Jesus Christ remove all defects in our actions and our character.

7. We continually come humbly to Jesus Christ to remove our sinful habits and shortcomings.

8. We have made a list of all persons we had harmed, and have asked Jesus Christ to have us became willing to make amends to them all.   We have set appropriate boundaries to prevent ourselves from being abused by others. 

9. We have made direct amends to such people where ever possible, except when to do so would injure them, others or ourselves.

10. We continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it to Jesus Christ seeking His forgiveness and strength.

11. We have sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the Bible, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

  Jesus grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as You did, this sinful world

as it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that You will make all things right

if I surrender to Your Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with You

Forever in the next.



from Patient Teaching, Loose Leaf Library
Springhouse Corporation (1990)

Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson describes the physical, emotional and psychological stages of development and relates specific issues, or developmental work or tasks, to each stage. For example, if an infant’s physical and emotional needs are met sufficiently, the infant completes his/her task — developing the ability to trust others. However, a person who is stymied in an attempt at task mastery may go on to the next state but carries with him or her the remnants of the unfinished task. For instance, if a toddler is not allowed to learn by doing, the toddler develops a sense of doubt in his or her abilities, which may complicate later attempts at independence. Similarly, a preschooler who is made to feel that the activities he or she initiates are bad may develop a sense of guilt that inhibits the person later in life. Infant
Trust vs Mistrust
Needs maximum comfort with minimal uncertainty
to trust himself/herself, others, and the environment Toddler
Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt
Works to master physical environment while maintaining
self-esteem Preschooler
Initiative vs Guilt
Begins to initiate, not imitate, activities; develops
conscience and sexual identity School-Age Child
Industry vs Inferiority
Tries to develop a sense of self-worth by refining skills Adolescent
Identity vs Role Confusion
Tries integrating many roles (child, sibling, student, athlete,
worker) into a self-image under role model and peer pressure Young Adult
Intimacy vs Isolation
Learns to make personal commitment to another as
spouse, parent or partner Middle-Age Adult
Generativity vs Stagnation
Seeks satisfaction through productivity in career, family, and
civic interests Older Adult
Integrity vs Despair
Reviews life accomplishments, deals with loss
and preparation for death[1]

[1] http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/erikson.htm