Letting Go of the Past
If you are afraid of closeness or intimacy, who are you going to pick to be in a relationship with?
You’re going to pick someone who is impossible to get close to, someone who is unemotional, non-communicative, or who is emotionally withdrawn and distant. They may be tuned in to the T.V., the computer, alcohol, or outside affairs (that will help them keep your relationship at a more comfortable distance), but you will not feel that they are very tuned in to you. They might be married to their jobs, their birth families or their children, but you will not feel that they are emotionally married to you.
Why would you enter such a relationship? Because it will feel safe to you. You will be in the position of constantly trying to win the other person’s attention, approval or love, which you won’t get with any degree of reliability or consistency. That position will feel vaguely familiar, because it will remind you of your struggle as a child.
If you learned as a child not to trust other people, you will fear that when someone really gets to know you in a relationship, they won’t want you and will reject you.
If you grew up feeling unloved or unwanted, you’re going to have trouble in your intimate relationships today. You learned, unfortunately, not to trust, not to talk, not to feel, not to share and not to make an emotional investment, because if you don’t have an emotional investment in a relationship, you won’t get very hurt.
If you are to free yourself of the destructive and self-defeating influences of your past, you will need to learn how to take care of yourself in ways that do not sabotage your goals, your happiness or your relationships.
- You need to make peace with your parents and your childhood past. Divide a sheet into 8 sections. Title each section: appreciations, Dad; appreciations, Mom; resentments, Dad; resentments, Mom; regrets, Dad; regrets, Mom; what I most wanted from you when I was growing up, Dad (and Mom). Fill in answers as completely as you can. You must resolve your childhood wounds and issues and make peace with them.
- Make decisions that are good for you and that enhance your well-being and self-esteem. Keep yourself happy and filled to the best of your ability, and give up self-belittling in all its forms.
- Get responsible for you, and how you’d like to be different. Stop righteously judging other people. Don’t guilt yourself or others, and learn self-forgiveness.
- Learn how to have fun and to play, and how to live in the present.
- What are you angry about?
- Your compulsive behaviors (eating, shopping, T.V., working, drinking, perfectionism) need to be examined and brought under control, because all of them keep you from your emotions.
- Learn to fully communicate what you feel and what you need.
- When a relationship is destructive to you, let go of it.
- Stop managing and controlling others.
- Get help. A good psychotherapist would be an invaluable guide in this work. Twelve step groups such as ALANON, AA, and Co-Dependents Anonymous might be helpful.
Psychological power is achieved by figuring out how not to be a victim of your past. You might not be responsible for having been brought up the way you were, but you are responsible for what you are going to do about it.