In my last blog, I explained how past issues can unknowingly affect the way we do life, showing up in patterns throughout our relationships, jobs, etc. In this post, I’d like to address how to dive into tackling some of these issues, that all of us have, head on.
Let’s start with what this looked like for me: Following my parents divorce when I was a teenager, I remember trying to reconcile my grief by thinking about what I “should” have known, seen or done. I remember wondering if I could have saved their relationship and blaming myself for not fighting for them to stay together. It was easier to focus on what I “should” have done or how I “should” have handled things; leaving only enough room for self blame, that lead to devastating beliefs about who I was, what I deserved and if I was worth it.
As an adult I recognize that I was just a kid, I couldn’t have held their marriage together and it was not my fault. Luckily, I was in my master’s program at the time and encouraged to seek out a therapist, who helped me uncover the pain of my past and understand how it was affecting me in my relationships.
Here are some exercises you can do to tackle these past issues head on so that you can take a hold of your future:
-Engage in an open conversation with yourself by writing in a safe place or finding someone you trust to talk to. If you find yourself feeling, “I’ve been here before,” or struggling with a current relationship, job, friendship, etc., writing or talking will allow you to objectify your thoughts and better understand what you are feeling.
– Identify what themes come up or what major life experiences stand out. For some this could be a life crisis, a traumatic experience or loss of a loved one. For others it could be a dissolved relationship, a disappointing experience or a memory that is painful.
-Think about what these experiences or themes have caused you to believe about yourself. Again, writing or talking this out will help externalize your thoughts and feelings and allow for more clarity internally.
–Identify where these themes or experiences are active in your life today by acknowledging any areas or relationships you feel these same things. Does your current relationship or a friendship remind you of a previous one? Have you felt what you’re feeling now in another situation before?
–If so, in what ways? Be specific.