Can you say it?
I am emotionally attached to the negativity in my past. That attachment to interferes with my present day life as an adult.
I remember, it was 25 years ago when I first entered therapy. I interviewed several therapists and agreed to work with them upon satisfaction of one condition – that we do NOT talk about my past.
Can you imagine?
One therapist asked, “What if your past is affecting your life today?”
“What if it isn’t?” I snapped back. “Then we just wasted time talking about something that doesn’t matter. Either you can help me feel better or not, so can you?”
He declined the opportunity.
I was 23 years old, so that’s understandable. In fact, developmentally speaking, it makes sense for 20-somethings to move away from the past, headstrong into the future.
As we grow older, more experienced and established into adult life, however, it becomes important for most people to stop denying the impact of the past and really learn let go.
You cannot let go of what you don’t realize you are hanging onto.
So, let’s look at the signs of a past that still haunts the present. Here are my top 10 signs that you are attached to negativity in your past:
1. You won’t talk about it.
If you are ok with the positive and negative in your past, you don’t mind discussing it, when and where appropriate.
Your romantic partner, therapist, good friends and relatives who care about you…these are all people with whom you could be sharing your past and the lessons learned.
2. You get those old, familiar feelings.
Vague feelings of pain and grief, resentment and fear still haunt people who are attached to the past. These unresolved feelings can appear anytime, in response to an outside situation or to your own thoughts.
For me it was a consistent, queasy feeling of dread in my gut, as if something were about to go wrong, continually. Regardless of how successful I was, I still felt uneasy most of the time.
You’re probably very familiar with these feelings, as they have been with you for a long, long time. They won’t go away until you emotionally square yourself with the past.
3. You can’t be yourself around your family of origin.
When you visit family, you hold back who you are by conforming to the old family expectations. This may involve remaining quiet or acting out or avoiding topics that you would nornally love to talk about. The point is, you act differently or feel you cannot be who you are in everyday life.
It’s a sign that you are conforming to old expectations, usually out of fear of disapproval, criticism or ridicule.
4. You fear disapproval in general.
Sometimes the family’s disapproval generalizes. When it does, you project your fear of disapproval onto other people; friends, romantic partners and even strangers.
This general fear of disapproval has roots in the original family dynamic.