August 7, 2023


I have been saying to my clients and friends for years to never confuse something being simple with being easy. So, what the heck am I talking about anyway? It is simple, we spend our entire lives cluttering up our mental health with debris from our pasts. It’s time to start the cleanup, which will not be easy.

I believe to function at a high level in the present we need to clean up our past. This job sounds simple, but it will be a very “complicated” and difficult challenge for you to achieve. But that being said, there is no greater reward than resolving our pasts and finding inner peace in our present.

I have spent the last 30 plus years working toward simplifying my past complicated life. It’s a never- ending journey but gives me focus and direction for making critical decisions in my life and profession.

Many times, we make life decisions based on past unresolved issues that wrongfully direct us in that decision making process. Our pasts are always present in how we live and act. It is just a fact. There are no present decisions made without the input from our past collective experiences. The more we have resolved in our pasts, the healthier the decisions we will make in the present.

Clients often will tell me, “But how can I resolve something that already happened? It’s a great question, and of course, no one can change their past. What you can do is change the beliefs you have about the past. You can change the distorted beliefs you may have adopted to deal with past events. Blaming yourselves or thinking how you shoulda, coulda, woulda, done it differently will only perpetuate the distortion and create shame and guilt that can haunt you for the rest of your lives.

We all have baggage from our pasts and it’s important that we shed as much of it as possible to live in the present and reach an inner peace.

Simplifying your lives can take years to achieve because it took years to complicate. Like a said before it is a lifetime journey. Once you start clearing the clutter you will be rewarded with much better clarity in the present.

For those in recovery and following AA’s 12 step program, several of the steps refer to cleaning up your past. However, those steps need to expand to include all past unresolved issues that have kept you from present clarity. The AA concept is effective, and it should be broadened for all people to follow.

A simple but effective exercise I do with clients is to grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. On the top left side of the paper write “Unresolved Issues” and on the top right side “Resolved Issues”. See what you come up with and start there with clearing up the past clutter.

The greatest challenge with listing our past unresolved issues is having to face what you wrote. It’s not easy and it can be overwhelming. To see it is to acknowledge what we wrote. We can no longer push it out of our memories and focus. Take it one step at a time and begin the journey to simplifying your lives!

Mind, Body, Spirit…Balance!

Vinnie Strumolo, CEO, CCO, LMFT