Last week I set the scene about this series looking at whether you live in the past, the present or the future. As I mentioned before there is a value to each of these positions however balance is the name of the game.
This week the focus is on the past. Do you live in the past harking back to old experiences? And if you do, are the majority positive or negative?
When I first joined my husband, Joe’s family I found one of the family dynamics puzzling. Regularly the family would start telling stories from the past. It was often the same stories and most were either sweet or funny.
My family dynamic really didn’t work that way. Talking about the past was just not part of the family pattern except for one thing. My dad had a tendency to talk a lot about the war (as in WWII).
The way my in-laws spoke about the past seemed to be positive and left everyone in a good mood. Their focus was on nostalgia and family bonding.
I reflected a little on how I don’t do that and wondered what do I do with the past? Well a lot of it I forget, my family seems to be excellent at amnesia! I often have conversations with people about events from my own past that I just don’t remember. This can be neutral or even positive events.
How did that happen?
I realise that as with so many things in life early programming is a big part of my experience. My mother has an automatic response to any bad experience that she still uses today:
“Put it all behind you and move on”
This is a great instruction for amnesia! There is a hidden message in the way my mother says it that is “forget about it”. This has some value for survival and yet can create limitation.
There were some things I did remember. Particularly before I did any kind of therapy the only things I could remember from my past were negative things. Even though they were quite dissociated they were still colouring my view of the world. Next week I will talk about what to do with such negative memories that may be getting in the way of a happy life.
So my original set up was either forget about it or re-live the negative. Not very healthy. We will talk in a couple of weeks about how to create positive recall of your past. Next week will be about handling negative recall.
To close for today let me tell you that with my in-laws I now join in. It is great fun. I can now tell stories about events I wasn’t even present for! Weirdly I have also created internal images of those stories! I have also added to the store of stories over the last 20 years and been present for many joint ones.
Nostalgia can be a great bonder provided we remember to check elsewhere too!