I titled this post the way I did knowing full-well that our past plays a huge role in who we become and how we integrate ourselves into the world around us. I’m not talking about past mistakes…those shouldn’t be revisited unless you’re looking to repeat the mistake. The past I’m referring to is our makeup, our fundamental ideals and values that make us who we are; the things that have had significant impact on our upbringing from the time of childhood until now.

This subject was spurred by a riveting conversation I had with my awesome husband. He’s really not much for just talking just to talk, but when he has something to say, I always tuck it away, as he’s revealing yet another piece of himself to me. I won’t go into details about how the conversation got to how we are raised to view ourselves and the world around us, but I will say this: you cannot outrun your past. However you were reared, whatever you were taught to believe about people- be it the best or the worst- those things will play out in your life. At some point in our lives, we have to reconcile with who we’ve always been. We have to come to some type of understanding with, well, ourselves. As I sat and listened to my husband talk to me about the reasons why he handles life and people the way that he does, I realized that there was so much I did wrong in the beginning stages of our relationship because it never occurred to me that my husband was a person BEFORE he met me.

Let me explain.

You see, often when we meet individuals for the very time, our natural instinct is to treat them like house guests. We assume they don’t know, or do know certain ways of doing things, so we educate them. We try to assess their value offhandedly, not really knowing what intrinsic gems lie deep within them. We act as if we are some missing piece to puzzle, and that our connection with them, or rather their connection with us, is paramount in their development as a human being. May I quickly share a lesson with you that I’ve had to learn the hard way?

Everybody has something to bring to the table.

The people that we cross paths with were people long before we crossed paths with them. They have identities and tendencies. There are things that make them laugh and things that send over the edge. They come from fatherless homes and two-parent households. Some  have self-esteem that is has been watered and nurtured their entire lives, while others are still feeling like they just don’t measure up or they have to work three times as hard as the next guy. Some people make friends easily and have never met a stranger. Others find connection and friendship strange.

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There is such a wide array of  people in the world. Everybody has a story, and everybody comes from somewhere. It’s important for us to know the story of the people who choose to be connected to us, because they give invaluable information about the people we are dealing with. We can avoid many issues when we learn how to handle people according to what we know about them and not based on what we can surmise about them in a generic sense. People are too precious not to take the time to truly see them, or hear them. There’s a wealth of knowledge in the stories my husband shares with, and the same wealth is in the stories of people everywhere. Don’t ever take for granted that you know someone. Approach them like a blank canvas every single time and appreciate the beauty that comes from every struggle and every heart attack that makes them who they are. Trust me, if you can take a visit into the past of another person, then you won’t get stuck their later on.

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