There are a lot of people in my profession and laymen alike that believe looking into the past will not help one to make changes in their future. I should know, I used to be one of them. I was jaded by Freud’s Oedipus complex and a didn’t see that looking into the past didn’t have to be so controversial. It’s about looking into our past to gain insight, not to point blame. It took me years to finally understand that.
When it came to looking at my past I had three reactions; defensive, blaming, then understanding. As a teen when I began therapy my defenses and my ideas about life were often (in my own mind) very precedent and very correct. My world was all or nothing as a teen. My poor mother must have heard, “you have no idea what it’s like” millions of times raising three teen girls all at once. We can now begin to rationalize that she walked in those shoes too. For most of us, no “life lesson” from an adult sits well until we reach the age of 30 and begin to see the world a little more grey. I spent the middle part of my 20’s blaming everyone around me for the outcomes in my life. Then the last couple of years happen and as a therapist in training I began to see that understanding our past is worth the observation; to make connections, then to learn how to change into better selves for our future.
I simply ask you to take a peak at your past and get a baseline of understanding for how it feeds the present. What we learn as children is ingrained in us and we must not blame our parents or caretakers for that. Nelson Mandela said this in his book “Long Walk to Freedom:”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
We can be taught things, but if we need to be “untaught” them later, it is possible. This rings very similar to a book worth mentioning that helped me anticipate options for this article called, “Addicted to Unhappiness.” It discusses the importance of knowing the experiences of your past to see how they influence you today. Without having knowledge of your past, you may not be digging deep enough to the root of your self. Your patterns and behaviors are a result of what you learned as a young child. When you know more about your past through understanding and leave blame behind, you can maintain higher results for resolution in the future.