Which voices do we hear? Which voices do we listen to? Which voices do we follow?
Most of us have many voices from the past: parents, family, friends, peers, teachers, coaches, bosses, co-workers, and church leaders. We have also had the influence of movies, books, social media, music, sports stars, politicians, and more. Many of these voices have been and are positive, encouraging and uplifting. And, unfortunately, many of them have been and are negative, degrading, and discouraging. We know there is one being who wishes us to be miserable like he is. And there is One who, along with His Father, wants us to have immortality and eternal life… eternal joy! That is our Savior Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven.
Sadly, there are many people who are still fighting voices and events from the past. Some individuals have suffered from anxiety; depression; stress; unhealthy relationships; addictions; abuse: mental, physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual; loss of jobs; financial losses; illness; and loss of loved ones. When those happen, we can experience a range of different emotions. But now that those events are in the past, how often do we revisit those memories and let those emotions overwhelm us and distract us from focusing on the present?
Those past events do not define who we are today. They do not predict our future. We have the power of choice. We can choose to no longer be victims of the past; we can be survivors. We can transform those events into learning experiences and opportunities for growth.
Accepting the past means recognizing your current situation as it is, without judging or criticizing how it happened or the people involved, including yourself. It does not mean that you agree with or approve of the bad behavior of others. It does mean that you let go of trying to change what has already happened and let go of the anger, blame, and shame attached to that event or those events. Accepting the past means living in the here and now and coping with the pain and suffering of past events.
The booklet Adjusting to Missionary Life teaches us to remember what we’ve learned and how we have been coping successfully with change and difficulty our whole lives. Be kind to ourselves. Talk back to negative thinking. Imagine the Lord sitting close to you, listening, and offering support.
May we let go of the past while we learn from those experiences. May we let the healing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ bless our lives. May we choose carefully which voices we follow. May we use our time and energy and discernment to Hear Him, to follow Him, to testify of Him and to feel His love today and every day!
[Note: These Mental Health Minutes are not meant to be a substitute for therapy. If you face any persistent issues that disrupt your ability to function in normal daily activities or negatively impact your relationships, I strongly encourage you to seek help from a qualified medical or mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek help immediately. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]