I’m Not Okay With Gray: How to Create An Extraordinary Life After 50 by Coach Michael Taylor (Book Excerpt)

Over the years, I have attended motivational seminars (including walking on 1200 degree hot coals), I’ve been to therapy, I’ve learned how to meditate, I’ve immersed myself in sensory deprivation tanks, and I’ve had transcendent spiritual experiences that have connected me to a power greater than myself. But if I had to choose one thing that had the most profound impact on my life, it would have to be learning how to make peace with my past.

To add some context, I have to admit that I possibly had the worst childhood a person could have. Between the ages of six and thirteen, I experienced every imaginable type of abuse you could think of. It wasn’t until I went to therapy that I learned how my traumatic childhood was negatively impacting my life as an adult.

Amazingly, some people do not believe that their childhood can actually have an adverse effect on their adult lives. Have you ever heard someone say that their parents used to beat them when they were little, yet they still turned out okay? This statement is a defense mechanism that keeps people trapped in their pain, and they will rationalize that their traumatic childhoods had no effect on them whatsoever. The truth is, if you remember being beaten as a child and you have not done any healing work, I can assure you that it will affect your life today.

I recently ran across a quote by author and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant that fully embodies why making peace with your past is so important. This powerful quote holds the key to your happiness, and I suggest that you read it slowly (and several times) and intently to fully grasp the implications of its message.

Until you heal the wounds of your past, you are going to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex; but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them.”

Herein lies the key to your happiness. Over the last twenty-plus years, I have learned that we must be willing to heal our hearts and make peace with our past if we truly want to be happy. We can read all the self-help books in the world and listen to audio programs or go to seminars with motivational speakers. Still, if we fail to carry out our healing work, we will unconsciously sabotage our lives and ultimately keep ourselves from being completely happy.

The key to making peace with your past lies in your willingness to heal any emotional scars you may carry from your childhood. Healing your heart is the key to making peace with your past. Psychologists will tell you that all addictions have an unresolved emotional conflict at their core, which simply means that there are emotional wounds that need to be healed.

What Iyanla Vanzant meant when she said, “You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them” is that it is your responsibility to look within your own heart and find where the pain is and be willing to heal that pain.

Some people prescribe to the idea that you do not have to address your childhood wounds to be successful and happy. They believe that digging up old hurts does not do any good. I completely disagree with this way of thinking. I believe that it is absolutely imperative that you look at the dark events in your life and are willing to shed light on them. Those dark places will eventually sabotage your happiness if you are unwilling to do so.

There is a term called “spiritual bypassing,” which means a person refuses to heal their inner wounds because they have accepted a specific religious teaching that says that God can heal you. I used to hold that belief. At one time, I thought that if I prayed enough and followed religious dogma and doctrine, I would eventually become happy. My own experience has taught me otherwise. It wasn’t until I became courageous enough to make peace with my past and deal with some childhood trauma that I was able to heal my heart and become genuinely happy.

When I decided that I wanted to heal my wounds, I was introduced to a man named John Bradshaw, who facilitated a program called Healing Your Inner Child. In one of his workshops, I learned how my abusive childhood was at the core of all the dysfunction in my life. I learned that I had abandonment issues as a result of being separated from my mom when I was six years old, and I also learned that for the majority of my adult life, I was driven by a deep sense of shame. It was my internal feelings of shame that drove me to be successful. I worked really hard to gain other people’s approval because I didn’t feel worthy.

Although it was extremely difficult, I made a choice to heal my heart and make peace with my past. I took Iyanla’s advice and found the strength to open my wounds, stick my hands inside, and pull out the core of my pain that kept me trapped in my past – and I made peace with them.

As a result of doing this work, I can honestly admit that I am happiest now than I’ve ever been in my life in this very moment. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I can assure you that it was worth it.

I hope you will take some time and really think about what I’ve shared. Do not make the same mistakes that I did in thinking that being positive all the time will solve all of your problems. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being positive, and I am still a huge advocate of positive thinking. The key is to make sure that you aren’t hiding behind positivity because of some unresolved emotional pain the way I did.

If you are committed to making peace with your past and are looking for some ways to do so, let me make a few suggestions for you to consider. First of all, it’s imperative for you to be willing to seek support if needed. I realize that there is a lot of negative stigmas attached to seeking support, but seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness.



Coach Michael Taylor is an entrepreneur, author (12 books), motivational speaker, podcaster, certified life coach, and radio and TV show host who has dedicated his life to empowering men and women to reach their full potential by transforming their lives from the inside out. He is President & CEO of Creation Publishing Group which is a company that specializes in creating programs and products that empower men and women to create extraordinary lives. For book information, visit  https://creationpublishing.com/collections/books/products/im-not-okay-with-gray