We all have a past and we all have had crappy things happen in our childhood that have imprinted on us to some degree. We have all had struggles in relationships with friends, family and especially romantically to some degree. We have all had sad moments in life from losing a job, a loved one, or a relationship to divorce or break-up. No matter how tragic or extreme the lows and highs have been in your life there is a time when you have to take inventory and ask how you plan to move forward. Acknowledge and feel those emotions attached to past events, give yourself time to sit with them but don’t wallow in it and keep asking why me? There is healthy time for healing and then there is time to ask if you really want this to define you moving forward.
I have a close friend who had a bad childhood. His father was a drunk who would go on tirades throwing things and yelling and would hit him and his mother when he was growing up. He would be embarrassed when his father would show up to school events drunk and sometimes even had wet his pants. He was later bullied in school for being the son of the town drunk. He did go on to college and ended up becoming successful. He had the nice home and cars, a place on the lake and a beautiful family but in time his workaholic ways caused his marriage to dissolve and they ended up in a divorce. Depression took over when his children left for college and started their own journey. Contact with kids was few and far between and he was living alone for the first time in years. When he did finally start to date again he was stressed with work and the financial toll the divorce and paying for two kids in college had taken on him. So he let out his frustrations in the new relationship. When things got bad he would frequently refer back to not just the current stress in his life but the past abuse and negative experiences growing up in his home and the bullying in school. It was obvious that all the negativity was consuming him and adding to his depressive state.
So how do you pull away from this thought pattern? Depression, anxiety, worry, stress…these feelings can follow us around like a dark cloud and be hard to shake. It takes small steps to slowly pull yourself out of the darkness of this thinking pattern. Sometimes it may even take the help of medication while going through counseling to address old hurt, anger, insecurities and other negative feelings. However, if you find that you are not completely consumed then maybe you have just found it easy to blame the past when you succumb to bad behavior. Maybe it has become a crutch or an excuse, like a get out of jail free card to be an asshole to those around you? You say something ugly in the heat of the moment and then apologize later using your difficult past as the reasons why you lash out. This may work for a while but most people around you will begin to grow weary of this cycle. Only you truly know the truth, but I encourage you to be really honest with yourself because in the long run you are only hurting yourself.
If you are aware enough to recognize that your past is the reason you lash out each time at what point do you start doing something about it? Saying your sorry means you understand something is wrong and you plan to change the behavior. If you continue to apologize but the behavior never changes, well then are you even really sorry? Take responsibility for your words and actions towards those around you and take an active role in making the hard but necessary change to be better. There are people in this world who use their past struggles to learn and grow and do better as they move through life and build a better future. Then there are those who continue to use their struggles as an excuse to be angry, selfish, and ugly in life. Be honest with yourself and address these negative patterns. Each day is a new day and a new beginning. Don’t let your past dictate your future.
The first step in addressing the negativity is to stop focusing on it. Change your perspective and you can change your life. Find things in your life that you are thankful for, count your blessings before you go to bed each night and again when you wake. Meditate and let your mind retrain itself to let go and be still to stop the cycle of constant worry. Stop referring back to your past when you do wrong in the present. Take time to pat yourself on the back by taking pride in how far you have come and all you have accomplished. Take time in your day to relax and do something that brings you joy. Start complimenting and finding things you appreciate in those around you. Look for the positive first instead of the negative in every situation and person you encounter. All of these things may seem simple but when practiced daily they can change your entire life.
With love, health, and happiness,