Don’t Let Your Experiences Determine Your Destiny

Last week Ruth wrote about a teen girl who was basically forced to quit her job due to sexual harassment by her boss. I’ve seen this happen and experienced it myself. It’s horrible. I was personally harassed by my boss at a fast food chain, and I know for a fact I was one of many he’d put his moves on. Like teen girl, I quit instead of playing the game. Working in the banking industry, honestly I saw many more women supervisors harassing and coming on to their male employees than men coming on to female employees. All were married with children. But that’s a whole other story. What I want to talk about today is not letting your experiences determine your destiny.

Don’t Let Your Debt – or Anything Else – Define You

Melanie at Dear Debt wrote about this here when she talked about net worth not equaling self worth. It’s really easy when you go through something traumatizing to begin labeling yourself by your experience. Someone who has suffered abuse might say “I am an abused person.” Someone who’s messed up their money might say “I am not good with money.”

While it’s important to acknowledge – and then deal with – your struggles, it’s equally important to not allow yourself to be defined by those struggles.

We did this for years, even after we began our debt free journey. We suck with money. We’ve made such a mess with our money. we would tell ourselves over and over. And guess what. Our finances didn’t change much.

Eventually, we started telling ourselves differently. We didn’t ignore the past, but we did take on an identity that spoke what we were striving for instead of what we had. We started saying things like

  • We are well on our way to debt free.
  • We are building wealth.
  • We are working toward financial freedom.
  • We have more than enough. 

The more we focused on where we were going instead of allowing ourselves to be defined by our mistakes or by the bad things that had happened to us, the higher our rate of success. As we changed the way we viewed ourselves, our outside circumstances began to match up with our inside view.

And this is why it’s vitally important to not let your experiences define you. Yes, you should face up to them. Yes, you should deal with and heal from them. But you should also work to define yourself as a victor over your bad experiences instead of being a victim of them.

It is in doing so that you can learn to truly overcome those bad experiences and then use them to help others do the same.

My personal message to teen girl today is that your former boss’ actions are a reflection of him – not of you. You are still the same beautiful, wonderful person that you always were. Don’t allow this experience to convince you otherwise.

By acknowledging what has happened to us, working on a plan for healing, and then using positive actions and affirmations to establish and solidify that healing, we can see ourselves as the person God intends us to be – more than a conquerer! (Romans 8:37)


16 comments on “Don’t Let Your Experiences Determine Your Destiny

  1. You are so right Laurie. It’s easy to adopt a victim mentality by getting stuck in the past. Your action steps are spot on. Amen Amen and AMEN! 🙂

  2. What’s the old saying, something about it being darkest just before the dawn. Meaning that darkness doesn’t last forever and that light can come. Many times that means we have to look for it, but it’s there.

  3. I like the title of this post. It’s similar to the investing disclaimer “Past Performance Doesn’t Determine Future Results.”

    Each day is a new day & an opportunity to live differently than before. Some days are worse than others and we still have the memories (good & bad), but we can always take actions to try and make tomorrow better than yesterday.

    Great advice to teen girl & I hate to hear that you had a similar experience yourself. I consider myself fortunate that I haven’t had these trials & I want to prepare my own daughters for these possibilities so they make the right decision as well if they ever get placed in these situations.

  4. This is so important! I think it’s natural to blame yourself when things go wrong. But, letting it fester and spill over to become shame can wreak havoc on self-esteem, as well as future progress and success. It’s important to learn to let it go. We cannot change the past, but we can take steps to create a better future today.

  5. I will make sure that “Teen Girl” gets this message, Laurie : )
    Reading this makes me realize that I’m actually uncomfortable saying things like, “We’re in a good financial position.” A couple of weeks ago, I ran into a old acquaintance, and in our conversation, she said, “I could use more money – but then, who doesn’t need more money?” I smiled and said nothing. I didn’t want to boast. But the truth is, I don’t need more money. More than enough is what DH and I have.

  6. Great post about some difficult situations. Even when the circumstances aren’t bad ones, we can get a little too attached to our experiences. I’m retired from traditional employment but being retired doesn’t tell you (or me) much about who I am and what I’m doing, just what occurred. If I hang on to that too closely, I’ll limit myself from what I can do. I’m glad you are reframing your financial identity because I know there’s no limit on what you can achieve if you do.

  7. In my personal and professional experiences, it is a trait in good people to be the most critical of themselves, not others. Selfish people tend to blame others when usually they just need to look in the mirror.

    It is tough to talk positively about yourself sometimes. However, like you said, if you start reinforcing positive comments instead of negative you can actually start to see your rate of success climb. You may never know it, but positive thinking may be influential to someone at a very low point in their life.

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