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Author Feature: Debra Fileta, Author of Reset

We last featured Ms. Fileta when her co-authored book Married Sex launched in 2021. We are excited to feature an excerpt of her new book, Reset: Powerful Habits to Own Your Thoughts, Understand Your Feelings, and Change Your Life (Harvest House Publishers, March 14, 2023).

“In her new book, Fileta walks readers through 31 powerful and sustainable practices that will reset the way things have been done in the past in order to dive underneath the surface and bring insight to their thoughts and feelings, ultimately changing their life.”

“It’s not a once-and-done thing, and neither is healing, growth, and change,” writes Fileta. “The process of becoming healthy is something you have to work at—something you have to practice. You don’t usually get it right the first time, but it’s in the practice that you see things begin to shift.”

Thank you, ICON Media Group, for making this feature possible.

Go Back to Go Forward

Excerpt from Reset by Debra Fileta

To move forward, we have to first go backward. I know that may not be the typical message you hear in Sunday school. Many times, we want to do a quick brush over the past and focus on the present and the future.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). We often misinterpret this to mean that you should literally “forget” your past. Forget the trauma, forget the pain, forget the hurts, forget the abuse, forget the betrayal, forget the abandonment, forget it all.

But please hear me on this: That’s not what Paul is advising! Paul wasn’t talking about forgetting his past struggles; he was talking about forgetting his past victories. He wasn’t talking about forgetting his past pain; he was talking about forgetting his pride and his boasting in his accomplishments. Just a few verses earlier, he listed all the things he could boast in—all his victories and accomplishments: his accolades, statuses, and successes. What he’s trying to say here is that his past identities are nothing compared to his identity in Christ!

Don’t take this verse out of context and use it as an excuse to avoid looking back. To avoid grieving. To avoiding healing. Friend, let me remind you of a powerful reality: You have to deal with your past to be freed from your past! In fact, there could be some things in your past that are actually keeping you stuck today. Our emotional responses in the present are often rooted in our emotional wounds from the past.

“Friend, let me remind you of a powerful reality: You have to deal with your past to be freed from your past!”

If you were to come see me in my office for a counseling session, the first thing I would have you do is tell me about what’s going on in the present. What is the key issue that brought you in today? We would discuss that issue at length and look for immediate solutions and practical next steps. You have to deal with alleviating the pain in the present, the most pressing symptoms first. It’s like emergency room triage. If you come in with severe pain in your abdomen, we’re going to help alleviate the pain first and foremost. But after that, we need to get to the root of what’s causing this pain to begin with. It could be anything from indigestion to your appendix, all the way to pregnancy!

The same thing goes with emotional health: We need to get to the root. So as we continued your therapy process, eventually we would get to your past. Somewhere between sessions 2 and 6, I’d ask you to do what I call the Timeline Activity. I would ask you to write down significant events, starting from your earliest memories all the way to who you are today, and note experiences that have shaped you for both good and bad. And then we’d talk through it with our eyes open to themes that might come up again and again in your life. We’re looking for emotional responses that might come up repeatedly without your awareness. We’re looking for patterns. We’re identifying roots.

Carla was one of those clients. She was so desperately trying to keep the relationships in her life strong that she was starting to feel exhausted, drained, and empty. She had a pattern of doing all or most of the work in her relationships—the giving, the serving, the forgiving, the initiating—out of fear that people wouldn’t like her or wouldn’t stick around. She felt like she had to prove to others that she was worth having around; she needed to be needed in order to feel secure in the relationship. But ultimately, she felt alone. She was trapped in a host of one-sided relationships, and her deepest fear of feeling alone was starting to become a reality.

Again and again, in different stages of her life, we began noticing that pattern. Out of fear of abandonment, Carla ended up giving too much in the relationships around her. Out of a deep insecurity that a person would leave, she desperately gave everything she had. Even to people who didn’t deserve it. Even to people who were too unhealthy to give back. As the pattern emerged, Carla opened her eyes to the fact that she had been functioning out of deep wounds for many years. These deep wounds caused patterns that started in early childhood but repeated themselves in different seasons of her life. Before she could begin to heal, she first needed to acknowledge the pain of being abandoned by her mom.

Your patterns might not be as obvious as Carla’s, but let me assure you, they are there. Patterns emerge in how you act, interact, feel, think, or behave. Those patterns need to be called out, examined, and faced. Because the only way we can successfully move forward is when we have successfully looked back. We all go waaaaay back, my friends. And sometimes it takes going backward to move forward. You’ve got to face it to replace it. So let’s go there. Let’s do this. Together.

“Because the only way we can successfully move forward is when we have successfully looked back.”

[Excerpted with permission from Reset by Debra Fileta published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 97408. Copyright 2023, Debra Fileta.]

Buy Reset here!

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of Reset: Powerful Habits to Own Your Thoughts, Understand Your Feelings, and Change Your Life, True Love Dates, Choosing Marriage, Love in Every Season, as well as Are You Really OK? She’s also the host of the hotline style Love + Relationships Podcast. Her popular relationship advice blog,, reaches millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook or Instagram @DebraFileta.

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