(NaturalNews) I remember, 25 years ago, I interviewed several therapists and agreed to hire them to help me upon satisfaction of one condition - that we do NOT mention my past.
One therapist was curious, "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?"
I was 23 years old, so that's understandable. In fact, developmentally speaking, it makes for 20-somethings to move away from the past, full speed ahead 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 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, causing unnecessary emotional stress and negativity.
Here are my top 10 signs that your past is still affecting you:
1. You refuse to discuss 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 live with 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 right 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. 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 seek approval or don't think for yourself 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.
5. You treat your kids like your parents treated to you
All too common, we treat our children in the negative ways we were treated. Amazingly, we can even recognize it when it happens, know it is wrong, and still do it. This is how influential the past can be.
6. You married your parent of the opposite sex
Not literally. In most cases, people marry someone who acts like the parent of the opposite sex. If dad was emotionally unavailable, a young woman marries an emotionally unavailable man.
If mom was controlling or a nag, the young man marries a controlling, nagging woman.
These are signs that you are still trying to resolve the old family situation through your present life. So often, we justify this choice by telling ourselves, "I can change him/her."
Human beings are emotional by nature. When those emotions are uncomfortable, we tend to block them from expression, thinking that we can avoid the pain.
This strategy backfires. When you repress emotions, you hang on to them. When you express them fully, it is easier to let them go. ??Denying, ignoring, and repressing negative emotions creates an attachment to those emotions.
8. You have little or no control over your impulses
Impulses come from emotions. When you have repressed emotions lurking under the surface, you still react to them. It's like carrying around a reservoir of fuel that is just waiting for a spark to set it off.
Out of control tempers, anxiety and other impulsive reactions stem from unresolved emotions. This leads to poor decisions, addictive behaviors and regret.
9. You feel restrained or trapped, but don't know why
When the family of origin is emotionally overwhelming, sometimes we set hard rules for ourselves that create limitations.
I must play it safe in life. I'll never speak in front of a group. I am not cut out to lead, so I never will. I'll never trust anyone. I'll always keep a low profile.
We intend these rules to protect us, but they can end up cutting off the healthiest choices. Interestingly, these rules can determine our choices whether we are consciously aware of them or not.
10. You repeat the same old mistakes
Repeating the same mistakes over and over is a sure sign of a negative attachment. Making the same poor decisions repeatedly is a major red flag that you have not resolved something in your history.
Must you revisit the past in order to heal?
No. Although some people do benefit by identifying and experiencing past memories, the key to healing is in making new choices today.
You need to recognize the influence of the past and learn how it is still affecting you. Only then can you make conscious decisions that take you in a new and different direction.
Getting out of denial about the influence of the past is a huge hurdle. Only a small percentage of the population has really connected the dots and become someone that lives beyond old family expectations.
This doesn't mean the process is complicated. It's not. Most people's ego simply gets in the way. Don't allow denial to keep you from recognizing the negative influence of the past, or you may never move beyond it.
To learn more about how negative attachments create self-sabotage and what to do about it, watch this unique, free video.
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