I have clients who’ve endured some pretty horrendous stuff as children and adolescents.
When I tell them these things are still impacting them, they wave me off with, “It happened a long time ago. It doesn’t matter anymore.”
No matter how much I try to tell them that it does matter, they won’t hear of it. They just don’t or won’t buy it. The past was dark and painful. They believe there's no need to go back and revisit that crap; it’s better to leave the past in the past.
But can you really leave the past in the past?
As a seasoned therapist, I would have to say NO. The past will always rear its ugly head in one way or another. We carry it both consciously and unconsciously. It never goes away, and those emotions linger and become depression, addiction, anxiety and worse. Buried feelings can also lead to destructive ways of living and self-sabotage. Your life can’t move forward until you heal. You may look great on the outside, but inside, you’re dying a little bit every day.
I’m not talking about blaming your parents. The old joke is, “The mother is always to blame.” This isn’t about blaming anyone. I believe most parents do the best that they can. They, too, are living with their own pain and bring that into their relationships and parenting style. Healing from the past is really is about acknowledging our feelings when something was done or said to us. I’ve had many clients throughout the years who’ve defend their parents behavior, no matter how painful it was to them. Often, I need to assure them that confronting the past isn’t about being mean to their parents, it’s more about recognizing themselves.
We carry the abuses of the past into our adulthood. These abuses may have come from parents, teachers, clergy or peers. All of these people impact us. Many have caused our suffering and in turn have influenced our adult lives. Denying our past hurts doesn’t make them go away. Actually, denying them makes them grow stronger. The pain that we fear will come when we deal with past hurts only increases if we ignore it.
Healing from the past is key to have a happy, healthy, and more fulfilling life. Here are some tips to get you get started on your journey of healing:
1. Acknowledge that it happened. It’s ok to admit to the fact that bad things happened to us in the past. Awareness is the first step to healing. It’s always important to keep in mind that you are not to blame.
2. Talk with someone about it. It’s always best to sort things out by getting another perspective. Talking to a psychotherapist, coach or clergy person is always a good place to start.
3. Allow yourself time to heal. Healing from the past is never a quick fix. Be patient with yourself, and most importantly, BE COMPASSIONATE. The wounds of childhood are old and deep and take time to heal.
It’s important to remember that you can’t change the past, but you can change how you deal with it’s pain. Beginning the journey can be difficult, but so worth it. It can make the difference between existing in life and actually living your life.