Getting Past The Past


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What to do when the past rears its ugly head into the present.

3. Find out what the person needs from you. If they know what they need, they will tell you. Some people, however, may not know what they need. They may tell you there is nothing you can do now but don't believe that. The reason they are telling you is because they do want you to do something differently now. Your job is to find out what it is. Likely, they may simply need to know, believe, and trust that you understand whatever you did before that hurt them and are committed to earnest effort in changing the behavior.

4. Act on it. Once you know what they need, act on it as soon as possible. If, “You only care about your job,” means, “I need more time and attention from you,” act on that information as soon as you can. Make a plan with them. “Will you have dinner with me tonight?” or “Do you have any time today to do something fun together?” Acting on the information sends the message that you get it and that the other person’s needs are important to you. The more immediate you are, the better.


5. Take a time-out. If you can't find what they need now or if it feels like the person’s only agenda is to beat you to a pulp, don't feel badly about taking a time-out if needed. Being another person's emotional punching bag isn't good for you and it isn't good for them. Following reasonable rules of engagement for "fair fighting" is important to avoid damaging each other. Let them know that you will talk about this later in the day and invite them that you really want to know what they need. While setting a limit may upset them even more, interrupting old patterns is an opportunity for change so learning how to calmly set limits while still inviting solutions is a good skill to learn.

6. Identify your needs. If you are the person who can't seem to get over the past, do your best to identify what you need now. Every time your mind pulls you to the past, ask yourself what you need in the present. Talking with a trusted friend or writing about your feelings may help you identify your needs. The next step is learning how to get your current needs met. There are many ways to do so. Why You Should Not Hope To Find Love

Bringing up the past is rarely a comfortable experience for either party, but there are reasons people do it. Most often, people do it when they are experiencing the same sort of feelings now as they did then.  They do it when they are trying to communicate what they need and are looking for solutions to feel better. The sooner you can understand what is going on and do your best to meet the need in the present moment, the better. No one can do anything to change the past. We can only do our best to handle the current situation and move forward.

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Faith Deeter, MFT


Faith Deeter, MFT

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Location: Lompoc, CA
Credentials: MFT
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Life Management, Parenting
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