When we lived in Indiana, the home we owned had some outdated landscaping that we tore out and re-did. There was one problem… the roots of the old plants were so deep, it was hard to get them all. For years we would continually see new growth coming up from the old plants and realized we didn’t pay attention to the roots and how deep they were.

This is so true for us humans as well. We think we can just change a few things around and “re-landscape” only to find out that the roots are coming back to haunt us. I talked about this last week in my blog about avoiding emotional pain.

Our roots don’t always have to be the negative things in our past, it can also be the amazing experiences that shaped us into who we are. Everything we go through, whether it’s awesome, just okay, bad, or traumatic, does and will have an impact on our lives. For the sake of this blog, I am writing specifically about the roots connected to difficult and negative experiences in life.

Many people feel uncomfortable dealing with all the negative emotions that come from the difficult seasons of life. Our instincts are to just push it all aside and avoid the struggle. We fear facing the pain of the old wounds and working on healing it. As much as it feel like this is self-protective, it is actually self-destructive.

How to pay attention to the roots, embrace them, and know the impact they are having on you

Look for deja vu

Do you ever see feel like something feels oddly familiar and not in a good way? This deja vu feeling can be evidence of a root coming back to the surface and flooding you with the emotions of the old wounds and colliding it with the current situation. This is called a trigger.

Don’t ignore triggers

When you ignore a trigger, you aren’t being honest with yourself. Sometimes we remember things that hurt and we have feelings that come up about it. When we stuff all the feelings down and avoid them, they don’t actually go away. They often grow and become more toxic. So just feel the feelings, understand if there is something you need about it, and keep walking on your healing journey.

Don’t try to cut off the roots

Have you ever taken a plant, cut off all its roots, and replanted it? Well that sounds like a really good way to kill a plant! Trying to cut off your roots is denying a part of who you are. Yes, bad things have and will happen that are a part of your story, but it doesn’t have to define you. If you cut off the roots, you miss the beautiful story of God’s healing and redemptive power in your life. God does not waste suffering- He can use it to make us better and grow and for His awesomeness to be on display. He desires for us to ‘remember’ in order for us to see all He has done and be thankful for it.

Find gratitude for what the root has given you

This can often be hard for people. When we experience hardship, our human nature is not to have gratitude. But let’s reframe that…have you seen how hard times have given you strength? Have you noticed tremendous character growth after times of struggle? The answer for most people is…YES! So we can have a very hurtful root from our past, but see it as something that has produced a gift for us in the end.

Spend time trying to understand the root

When we neglect understanding the root, we risk not seeing the full impact it can have on our lives. Try to spend time contemplating and reflecting on roots in order to see the domino affect it could be having on you today. For example, an overly critical parent, could be the root of some shame issues in your life. Not being liked by others and being bullied, could be linked to your current codependency issues. So many people feel freedom when they understand the roots of their issues and can heal and combat them more intentionally.


Do you keep tripping over old roots? Take some time to think through how you respond when you do.