This Blog Is About

This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


The value of reviewing your personal history

 "Overcoming childhood woes.  Your childhood affects how you handle conflict, react to authority, and take and give criticism and compliments.  For example, as a child, were you considered stupid?  Made to feel guilty for speaking up?  Expected to live with scarcity?  Disliked by your parents?  Were your role models inadequate; for example, did you have a lazy or short-tempered parent?  Solution:  Every time you feel uncomfortable at work, in a memo pad, write the event, your internal response (if there's one), your external response, and what, if anything, you want to do differently next time."  Author unknown.
Reluctance to review the past

Often patients come to therapy but the one thing they don't want to do is reflect on their childhood.  There can be many reasons for this, such as, not understanding the value of that process, fear of re-experiencing emotional pain, a reluctance to critique their parents or family of origin, and so on.

And a growth process can take place without this aspect being included but it eliminates a richness to the experience.  Reviewing your early experiences from the position of adulthood can help you to understand yourself.  The more you understand how you came to be the way you are, the more confident you will become.  Why?  Because you won't surprise yourself.  Also, you won't be afraid that someone else might see something in you that you don't see.
 The thoughts and memories that come to mind if you allow this can also give you the opportunity to have compassion for yourself.  If you had difficulty with something as a little kid, who can have more mercy and ability to be helpful than you, yourself, as an adult?  I once wrote a post here about a person who, as a child, had parents who paid no attention to his interests, to him as an individual.  In fact, they actively suppressed his individual inclinations. (Title of that post, Depression Prevention)    In therapy now, as he is beginning to come to terms with the effect this has had on his life and his tendency toward depression, we are working to repair the deficit and help him to find his passions.
 A recent post on Addiction brings to mind a simple and common example:  In alcoholic families, the children are often disallowed to have feelings.  Of course, they have them, but they cannot be shown.  So, an adult from this kind of background may find themselves having a lot of trouble expressing their feelings, even when it is welcomed, because deep down inside it is experienced as breaking the rules.

On the other hand, some suffer from being haunted by sad or painful or confusing memories from childhood.  This is the opposite of the repression mentioned above.  In this case, sharing, in a conscious manner, with a trusted therapist, can be a relief.  The result of clarifying and enlightening oneself about what happened can be, ultimately, a sensation of feeling more integrated as a person.

In at least one theory of therapy, Ego psychology, it is believed that the earlier the damage took place, the more severe will be the expression of it in adulthood.  This also flies in the face of common wisdom:  Most people think that it doesn't matter much what happens to children before they can talk because they don't remember it.  However, if you understand the logic behind this psychological hypothesis, it makes sense:  The younger we are, the fewer defenses and coping mechanisms we have.  We are exquisitely impressionable as very young beings.

Usually the best therapy takes place when the past problems, the present conundrums, the emotions and the thoughts are all woven together.  Often this is where insight occurs.

(Posts related to this topic:  The Man In The Mirror & Not A Know-it-All)

Have you discovered a new understanding of yourself through introspection?  Sharing your experience of that here might be encouraging to other readers.

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