This is article two of three. Read the first article here.
To identify key decisions in your life, first look at your current circumstances, because they're a reflection of your beliefs and assumptions. If you find there is a pattern to your circumstances and your behavior, then you know you made a key decision that's being played and re-played out in your life. For example, if you go from one bad relationship to another, you likely made a key decision about yourself and relationships that keeps you from experiencing loving, intimate connections. Or, if you have chronic problems with money, again there is a key decision about what money means or what you deserve. Maybe you find yourself exhausted because you're always working and never give yourself a break. Did you make a decision at some point that you must constantly strive to do more, have more, be more?
One very useful exercise is to write your autobiography in order to review your life story. Think back over your life and write down your memories about what you experienced, what life was like, what you felt. Start as far back as you can. What do you remember between the ages of 0-5, 5-10, 10-15, and so on? It's best to hand-write your story on paper because this will engage your right brain more, and stimulate forgotten memories.
After you have a good collection of memories written down, take some time to look for significant events and for themes.
- What patterns can you see?
- How did you respond to difficult events or pattern of events?
- How did you try to make yourself feel better?
- What did you do to try to succeed, get attention, or feel significant?
- Can you see ways you learned to protect yourself?
By answering these questions and reflecting on the themes in your life, you should be able to see some key decisions you made that have influenced the course of your life and how you have lived.
In the first article, I told you about the husband of a couple I'm working with, but the wife also has an interesting story to tell. She grew up with her mother and an old sister. Mom had men in and out of her life, and some of them were controlling and abusive. Mom worked hard and went out often, so my client basically had to cope with life on her own. She found refuge in her friends and their families, and got some of her needs for attention met. She made some key decisions to cope with life by trying to be perfect and make people like her. She also decided she wanted to have a large family and dedicate herself to being the best mother she could be.
The key decisions this client made helped her get some of her needs met as a child, and to be successful as a wife and mother as an adult. However, she was also very sensitive to any indication of not being loved and valued. In the previous article we learned that her husband was good at providing and working hard, but not skilled in emotional connection. She responded in the only way she knew, which was to be even more perfect and work for his acceptance. Inevitably, this pattern led to resentment for both of them as they weren't really getting what they needed from one another. Again the good news is they both made a commitment to learn how to change their key decision patterns and create a new quality of connection. The next article will focus on how to understand and change self-defeating key decisions.
More advice from a Personal Development Coach on YourTango: