January 29, 2024

We Are the Product of Our Past Resolved and Unresolved Issues

My Resolution Focused Therapy© (RFT) is founded in inductive reasoning and my own life’s
journey. All of us have past resolved and unresolved issues in our lives and we are the product
of those issues. How you deal with your past will determine how you live your lives in the

My RFT philosophy stresses that the more past unresolved issues we have, the more
unresolved baggage we carry into our present lives. The more unresolved baggage we carry
into our present lives, the more we emotionally react or get triggered by those events. This
emotional reactivity can lead to various mental health conditions or symptoms such as anxiety,
depression, anger, “flashbacks,” sleep disturbances, relationship issues and so on. In addition,
the more symptoms we experience, the more likely we are to use substances as an unhealthy
ground to deal with them. The same goes for issues that we have resolved or put to rest. The
more resolved, the less our present lives are cluttered with the previously stated conditions or
symptoms, and the healthier we are.

I recognize we are a complex species, and many people may say I am oversimplifying a
complicated process, I say, rubbish. I have spent the last 3 decades cleaning up all my past
unresolved issues and have been much happier and content in my present life since doing so. It
doesn’t take a scientific experiment to gauge your present level of contentment. It just takes you
tuning into your emotions and thoughts about your present state of mind. In all my years of
treatment, I have never worked with someone suffering from mental health conditions that
weren’t related to their past traumas or life events that have not been resolved.

My RFT philosophy may sound simple, but it will be the most difficult and complicated journey
on which you will ever embark. You see, we cannot change our past events, we all know that,
but we can change the way we perceive them, and that is where it becomes a challenge. We
cannot just ignore past unresolved issues, especially those in our childhood or in our young
adult lives. Although, many of my clients have tried to do so, and that is the rub. The more you
try to put an unresolved issue behind you, the more that event will cast a shadow over your
present thoughts, feelings, and actions. You must challenge the distorted beliefs that will
continue to haunt you.

Distorted beliefs in RFT refer to the “shoulda,” “coulda,” “woulda,” pattern of thinking that when
left unchallenged, will continue to spin in your head every time you flashback to a given life
event(s). Other distorted beliefs can be from early childhood where you have come to see
yourselves as a “bad person,” or “failure,” or some other thinking that causes you to live your
lives accordingly. This kind of thinking will have a negative impact on your present lives in the
form of symptoms, and other mental health and substance problems.

The question that has come up in many of my groups is “How can I resolve my past without
changing it? As stated earlier, it is in the way we perceive them. So, using myself as an
example. My past traumatic event involved a loved one. I punished myself for 4 years believing
that the outcome was “my fault” and that “I “coulda” done better and “shoulda” acted sooner.
These thoughts tormented me for years and I proceeded to self-destruct in many ways. I made
my peace by finally forgiving myself and realizing I did the best I could with the tools I had at the
time. This changed my life for the better, and I have never looked back other than the memory
of the event. A memory that no longer causes me to overreact and start spiraling downward.

Clients have also asked me if they will ever stop flashing back to traumatic life events. Once
again, my answer is based on my own experience. I tell them that I have never stopped flashing
back to my event. The difference is I am no longer emotionally reactive to that memory. I think
about it and know it was a sad period in my life, and then resume my present life. The memory
is now my strength to help others deal with their unresolved past.

Our past unresolved events will be settled one way or another. You can choose to let those
events define who you are in a positive or negative manner. I chose the former, and my past has
become a strength, not a weakness. With the latter, your past will remain a burden. The road to
“inner peace” is paved with past obstacles that need to be put to rest to find peace. Begin your
journey to live a life worth living!

Mind, Body, Spirit…Balance!

Vinnie Strumolo, CEO, CCO, LMFT