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How to Properly Use Your Past Experience for Personal Growth


Our pasts can be filled with many negative experiences that we’d like to forget. If we aren’t careful to address our past, those less than happy experiences can go on to shape us in negative ways. However, we don’t have to let the negativity of our past define us. Instead, we can decide to use our past for personal growth. By doing so, we make the best out of a bad situation and go on to live meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the idea that failures are simply a stop on the road to success. Adopting a growth mindset helps us to embrace the past by accepting that some negative experiences and choices are simply a part of life and learning. This frees us from the negative emotions of guilt, and shame and getting stuck in the past. When we can accept our past as part of our overall learning and development process, we can learn and ultimately move forward.


Forgiveness is about giving ourselves and others grace so that we can move forward. Often when we’ve experienced negative things or have made poor choices, we can get stuck in a cycle of unforgiveness towards others or ourselves that keeps us stuck in the past.

Making a conscious choice to forgive others or yourself, frees you from the event or mistake and allows you to heal so that you can move forward, versus remaining stuck in the pain of that moment.

Forgiveness is essential to releasing emotions like anger, shame, bitterness, sadness, guilt, and others that can keep you bound and stuck. Thus, working towards forgiveness should be a priority.


Our perspectives play a vital role in shaping our ability to move forward. A pessimistic outlook will keep us stuck in the past and focused on the negatives. But an optimistic outlook can cause us to view our lives and circumstances through a positive lens and propel us forward in life. A positive perspective can help us see our past as a building block or a learning opportunity, and thus something that we can use to help us. Thus, cultivating positivity is important so that we can use our past to our benefit rather than being held back by it.


Gratitude is about a choice to find those things in our lives we are thankful for. When we have experienced negative experiences in our past, this can be hard to do. However, embracing a mindset of gratitude is a strong strategy for using our past for personal growth.

Gratitude is a more direct way to alter perspective because it refocuses our attention on the positive things that we are grateful for and shifts it away from those less than positive experiences. By thinking about those things, we have to be grateful for we can pivot from the past and think more about moving forward in life.

Don’t Dwell

The most important step in being able to use the past for personal growth is learning not to dwell in the past. You can never adequately move forward if you continuously think about the past. The best measure is to take whatever lessons you can learn from the past, apply them, and then move on. This keeps you from getting stuck and being unable to make progress in life as a result.

The past doesn’t have to be a stumbling block. Instead, it can be a stepping stone towards a brighter future. If we adopt a growth mindset, embrace a positive perspective, come from a place of gratitude, and learn to forgive and move on then we can use our past to progress and become our best selves.