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When Someone Brings Up Your Past Mistakes

“Just in case you forgot the past, here’s an unhealthy reminder of what you did.”

A while ago I was confronted by someone in my close circle about mistakes I made in the past.

What hurt the most was that several of the accusations had truth in them.

Yep, I had done several of the things I was being put on the hot seat for.

It wasn’t a hostile interaction. In fact the conversation had started out pleasantly. At some point, however, the topic changed and errors I had made in the past were brought up.

Here’s the thing… these weren’t new accusations. These were actually mistakes that I had apologized for and made amends for in the past.

The person had also previously accepted my past apology.

But on this evening, and in this state of mind, the person was dealing with some unresolved issues. I happened to be on the receiving end of their process.

To say the least, it wasn’t fun having the mistakes of the past being resurrected and presented before me.

Especially, when those mistakes can serve as a trigger that can cause me to spin into depression.

You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach? You’ll probably get to experience it at the worst moment, and maybe in front of other people too.

You’ve probably had a similar interaction with someone you care for or work closely with.

We’re not perfect. We’ve ALL made mistakes. Several of those past mistakes are severely embarrassing.

Time, wisdom, and action can heal.

Likely, you’re not the same person you were several years ago when those errors were made. If you’ve been proactive in your life with your healing and strengthening, you may have learned how to course correct.

Unfortunately, you can’t control when someone is going to blindside you with the past.

And if I were a betting man, your past is going to be brought up at the most inopportune time.

It might happen right while you’re in the middle of a deadline for an important project. It might even happen right in front of other people at a family gathering.

It’s going to suck.

That interaction may also cause several things to happen to you.

For me, it’s a tightening of my chest. For you, it might be a clenching of your stomach.

You’ll feel all the embarrassment of the past flooding up into your thoughts and your body. It might feel like no time has passed at all and you’re right back to the very first day after the mistake happened.

In the moment while your past is being brought up, you might have a reactive tendency to put out this fire and appease your accuser. You might feel as if you’re put on your back foot in a defensive position and start explaining or justifying yourself.

There’s also going to be an aftermath from this interaction.

You might leave the conversation, but it’s going to continue to replay a lot in your head over the next few hours, if not the next few days or weeks.

That replay of how you felt in the moment will try to take the forefront of everything that you’re doing. That barrage of thoughts is going to mess up your focus on what you’re working towards.

You’re also going to have a very hard time remembering all the progress and changes you have made.

How the heck do you cope with this? More importantly, how do you handle it when this happens again? (And believe me, it will happen again).

What you do so that their opinion doesn’t drive you off the rails.

Recognize what is happening when you are being confronted.

Who is delivering the comments and why are they doing this?

Is there something going on personally for the other person that they’re trying to work through and they are using you as a conduit for their emotions?

There’s truth. Then there’s someone else’s version of the truth.

Sure, they may be telling the truth, but it will be from their point of view. There will be facts that don’t have all the information.

Listen and respond as neutrally as possible in the moment.

More than likely you are not going to change someone’s mind especially if they are agitated. Is there something you can do at the moment that can de-escalate the situation?

Ideally, you can do this in a way that will honor both of you.

You don’t have to concede to their point of view. You can neutrally reflect back their words to show them you are hearing their argument.

You can also show them understanding of their feelings. This does not mean you have to agree and comply with their viewpoint.

You may have to stay quiet for the conversation.

A perfect example of remaining quiet is shown to us by Jesus when he was brought before King Herod (Luke 23:6-12) Sometimes in the face of questioning and accusation, silence is the only response.

Afterward, talk it out with someone you absolutely trust and you know who has your back. 

Maybe up front let your closest person know if you are seeking a solution or comfort. This will help you process what happened.

Write it out. Get out the stuff that might be brewing as a result of the conversation. Even the stuff you would have liked to have said that wouldn’t have helped. Better to have it down on paper and out of you.

As objectively as you can, reflect on what was said to you.

Where did the attacking person get it right or where was there a filtered version of the past? Remember, everyone is a hero in their own story.

You may have been painted as a villain by someone else in order for them to get through something. That doesn’t make it true.

Right now, you are the hero in this scenario as you try to learn.

Pray. Ask for God’s help and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help you with discernment and to also get rid of anything that wasn’t the truth. Scripture is a life raft to help you through this.

Here are a few verses that may help:

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5, NIV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT

You can also seek out other written prayers to help. This is one you could use:

Help Me To Discern

Today, O God of all days,

give me an experience of your heart.

Draw me deep into your very being,

into the core of your love for me, others, and the world.

Give me a glimpse of others the way you see others:

loving them, forgiving them,

and delighting in the way they give glory to God

through their very existence.

Help me to discern out of that open place of deep affection so that I too might be a useful vessel of your love in the world.

Author Unknown

Why you need to go through hard interactions like this.

Having the errors of my past brought up was not comfortable. At that moment I would have felt better sorting backed-up paperwork or helping my parents clean up their garage.

My instinct is also part of my character defect.

I want to run. I want to avoid.

Running away isn’t going to help. It’s not going to solve it.

Sometimes we are granted opportunities to help us grow, strengthen, and refine our character.

Working through uncomfortable situations develops the valuable tools of experience and wisdom.

God will use what you learn through these trials and you move towards His purpose for your life.

Dwelling on the past or using your precious time and energy to change a person’s fixed view of you isn’t helping you.

How I came to part of this realization was by writing.

It was foundational to working through my emotions and recognizing patterns in my life. This writing helped me figure out my purpose.

It doesn’t have to be a lot. You can simply start by jotting down your thoughts for a few minutes a day.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s just another way to help.

By the way, we have a free tool available to help you start exploring your purpose in our One Month Buffalo Journal found here

We’re gearing up in the next few months to help you through your journaling techniques so you can get better, the best place to be up to date with that info is by following and liking our content on Instagram, which you can do here

It helps us MASSIVELY as we build our content and help get this message out to others as they face the storms of life with God's help.

Thanks for allowing us to be a part of your healing and strengthening journey.

Onward, upward and God bless,

Kevin Gregg

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