All that hard shit from forever ago should just stay there; forever ago. You already had to go through it once, why would you ever want to relive that?!
The problem is that you are reliving it. In your relationships, in your jobs, and at school.
Unfortunately, the shitty things that happen when we are younger don’t just disappear, they affect your everyday and the things you care about now.
When you try to pretend that all that past shit is behind you and it shouldn’t matter anymore, it’s a set up. This means you can’t acknowledge when you might be acting out some of those learned patterns. It means you can’t move forward, because the only explanation you’re left with if you can’t acknowledge that you are being impacted by your past is that you are “bad” or “lazy” or “mean”. And what can you even do about that if it were true?
If you can’t recognize the way that the past is affecting you now, then you’re left feeling like there is just some weird thing wrong with you that you can’t ever seem to put your finger on or do anything about. This is incredibly dis-empowering, discouraging, and frustrating.
This is what leads you to introduce yourself as broken, or beyond help.
So if you don’t give yourself permission to recognize and explore how you might be affected by the not so perfect stuff in your past, it will not only keep you just oblivious enough to not be able to change what isn’t working, but you might even notice yourself starting to give up. You’ve tried everything you know how to do to just be better, and nothing works.
Eventually you find yourself deciding there’s no point in continuing to try. It’s just too much energy that you don’t have.
Your parents weren’t really available. You get why, they were doing other things to take care of the family, you did need the roof over your heads. You’re not upset about it anymore, but you did decide that when you had kids you would be different. You’ve worked your ass off to be in a really good position in your work by the time you have kids. You are much more able to dictate your schedule and you make enough money to be comfortable.
You did everything right.
You were over the moon when you brought her home. She was just as beautiful as you thought she would be. You and your wife decided that you would be home by 6:00 every evening so that you could do family time. And for a while you were able to do it. But when you get home it feels like all hell is breaking loose. There’s screaming, and it’s messy and when you try to help it feels like you just make things worse. When you look at your daughter’s little red, angry face, you see all of your failures reflected back at you.
All you want is to be able to hold her and comfort her, but she feels awkward in your arms and you can’t get her to stop screaming.
Well, there’s a project at work that could really use your attention. At least at work you can be useful.
All you are at home is in the way.
Before you know it the beautiful little baby you were over the moon to take home is a child; with thoughts and feelings and opinions and. . .you don’t know how to interact with her. Your wife has been asking you to adjust your schedule so you can be home more, and you tell her (and yourself) that of course you would if you could, but work is just really busy right now.
Deep down you know that you are doing exactly the opposite of what you promised yourself.
Every so often you make a silent oath that you will start coming home earlier, that you will let someone else head the next project at work. But it feels so good to know what you are doing, and it feels so unsettling and aggravating to be told how to comfort your own daughter. Why can’t you just do better? What is it about this simple thing, showing up more for your family, that is just eluding you?
You have put the responsibility on yourself, decided that it should be an easy, simple thing for you to do, and haven’t allowed yourself to entertain the idea that there might be some unfinished business from the way you experienced your parents in your own childhood that might be affecting your current behavior and experiences.
This has kept you stuck, repeating the same patterns, re-living your past from the other end, and impotently beating yourself up for it.
What you’re trying to do is much more than simply doing a different thing. You are trying to fight years of conditioning and expectation setting. So much of this happens without us even knowing. It is normal to have a hard time making these changes, and if it were easy, then everyone would be able to do it.
It’s okay to struggle with making these changes that seem like they should be easy and simple. It makes sense to get frustrated when you find yourself just making the same mistakes over and over no matter how many times you tell yourself you’re going to do it differently.
Your past does still matter.
It is still affecting you, and that may not feel like a pretty realization. However, if you can learn how to recognize when you are being affected by old patterns and habits, then you can start to feel empowered to make changes in your life. When you know how to navigate this stuff from your past when it rears its ugly head, you can absolutely start to feel like you are in the driver’s seat in your life.
Keep reading to learn 3 ways to spot when your past is affecting your present and what to do about it.
You are stuck on a treadmill, repeating the same mistakes and patterns.
The worst part about not learning to identify when your past is creeping into your present, is you don’t get to interact with your patterns from an empowered position.
You end up just watching passively as the same patterns repeat against your will.
At the very least you will find yourself beating yourself up, constantly wondering what must be wrong with you that something so simple is so beyond your capacity to create change.
This will make you feel powerless and maybe even hopeless. You have worked your whole life to have a different experience, and you feel impotent to make it happen.
You can be empowered and excited about making changes in your life.
You have been frustrated with your inability to make the changes in your life that you can easily see would be helpful, but you have the potential to identify the barriers to making those changes, and begin to finally make some progress in building the life you want.
When you make the decision to recognize how you are being impacted by your past, you finally have the opportunity to feel more in control and capable.
You can recognize what has been keeping you stuck so that you can navigate these barriers differently and finally make the changes in you want to see in your life.