If you were adopted as an infant or older child, your past may occasionally eclipse your present as you fight to overcome feelings of abandonment, identity formation, loss, and guilt. Your experiences can bring you confusion and uncertainty, but they are also what makes your journey chromatic and unique. As you link together the pieces of your plot, it helps to seek support and care from those who can clear your vision and propel you toward an exciting future. Here are some tips for overcoming issues as an older adoptee:

1. Find a Great Therapist

If you find the pain of your past sometimes soaks through the cloth of your daily life, it may be time to locate a competent counselor. Your family doctor is a great place to start looking for references, and those therapists may be able to direct you to individuals who are even more specialized in the areas of adoption grief and loss. It is common for older adoptees to exhibit depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems due to unresolved beliefs about their past. A therapist can help you overcome undue guilt and painful memories from situations where you may have been neglected, abandoned, or otherwise abused during the tender years of youth. You can also work together to establish long and short-term goals for mental and physical health, as well as career or family ambitions that will make your purpose in life more visible and attainable.

2. Find a Support Group

No one will be able to validate your feelings more than others who have had similar experiences. They may discuss emotions or concerns that you have dealt with but were too reserved or ashamed to disclose to others. You may find yourself relieved to know that there are many other people battling the same Goliath, and he is as real to them as he is to you. Online support groups can be just as helpful as in-person meetings, as long as you are connecting with a few other people who are making you feel understood and hopeful.

3. Read Books and Watch Podcasts

I have always considered books to be like secret friends that offered insights and encouragements to my soul when no one else seemed to care. Don’t be afraid to search for titles written by authors from similar situations or biographies of famous adoptees who overcame obstacles and went on to touch the world in a particularly powerful way. If paperbacks aren’t your style, you can listen to audiobooks on your way to work or watch discussions online that speak to your situation. You will expand your mind as you seek to make sense of your past and future.

4. Scribble in a Journal

While it may not feel natural at first, journaling is a great way to connect with your feelings and corral them on paper so they cannot get the best of you. When you begin to make correlations between situations that made you feel lonely or angry, you may be able to associate them with memories or hurts from your past. As you begin to flesh out your story, you may realize that you are in a unique position to help others in a world where staggeringly bad things exist alongside inconceivable goodness. It is a blueprint for hope, determination—like shining a colorful light in lots of dark corners.