Bringing Up Upbringings: Facing the Past When it Haunt Us

Many people who struggle with a negativity bias, emotional instability, phobias and other forms of long-term psychological trauma can often trace the roots back to how they were raised. It can be an extremely difficult subject for many to discuss, primarily because their perspective differs so much from that of an outsider who didn’t go through the circumstances first-hand. At other times, it is hard for the individual effectively being haunted by their past struggles to not blame themselves, leading to an often-vicious, mentally draining cycle.

Today, we’ll dive deeper into this issue to explore the logic behind it. It’s an infinitely more complex subject than we can convey here, and so we highly encourage further reading on the subject as well as working with an experienced professional if you suffer in this way.

Different Kinds of “Ghosts”

Every single person in the world has an element of their past that they keep locked deep inside, and usually, this decision is driven by various emotions. For instance, they may try to forget and move on from a traumatic instance of sexual abuse, but fear and embarrassment causes it to resurface in their mind. Alternatively, victims of extensive bullying in the schoolyard may struggle with social situations and maintaining self-confidence later in life, especially if they have no unbiased, motivating individuals in their lives. In other instances, a rough upbringing fraught with parents facing addictions issues can represent an inability to trust others or the development of social phobias.

Being Steered by Perceptions

We all lead unique lives, but sadly, it can also be our Achilles’ heel. If an individual’s past is particularly traumatic and hardly a basket of roses, it will invariably shape the way they perceive the world around them as well as their own selves. Many of us don’t even notice that this has happened in our own lives, as we each establish our own bubble of normality based on our perceptions. This can present a serious challenge, with many who suffer from anxiety and depression negatively influenced or “steered” by their past experiences.

The Influence on Behavioural Traits (for Better or Worse)

Ever wonder why someone has a stubborn streak or an inability to not take critical feedback personally? In the end, you don’t know them as well as you may think you do, and it’s a good idea to consider that their past has influenced their mindset. Behavioural traits are shaped since childhood, moulded like soft clay by life events and personal experiences, and it can be near-impossible to detect that something is wrong with your attitude when others can. Surrounding ourselves with people who are unbiased and supportive yet willing to be truthful can help us learn more about our own mental bias and subsequent behaviors triggered by it.

“It Was Better Before”

On the flip side, the past can sometimes serve as a nostalgic reminder of when things were going well compared to the current situation. For instance, an individual who had a successful business a few years back may be upset that things aren’t going as well now, but they struggle to see the cause is clinging to the past (the struggling restauranteurs on the TV show Kitchen Nightmares come to mind). Or, perhaps a serious romantic relationship was cut short, and one person longs to be back with the other after making mistakes causing the farewell. There are various other examples of this “reverse-haunting” occurring and may involve us putting on rose-coloured sunglasses and trying to live in yesterday because facing today or tomorrow is too stressful. In a way, it acts as a coping mechanism. The love for nostalgia continues as a trend, with many modern fashion trends and products bringing the past back to life because manufacturers know the general public has a soft spot for certain styles, patterns, and themes. The “it was better before” sensation is so deeply ingrained in our society that many don’t notice it and ironically, in some cases, it really was better before.

Moving Forward

While the fragrant or frightening days of the past can hinder the ability to make the most of one’s life today, the effects don’t have to – and shouldn’t – be permanent. There are ways to numb the pain and re-open the doors leading to wonderful new opportunities. This new, future-facing mindset is achieved by developing a deeper understanding of the self while embracing today’s potential in the present. In addition to working out personal issues that hold you back such as relationship problems, standing up to abusers and leaving toxic individuals behind, individuals haunted by the past can move forward mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Developing mindful methods of alleviating our attachments to memories is very much like sucking the poison from an open wound. It is imperative that we strive to replace these toxic thought patterns with exciting new prospects and reasons to look forward to tomorrow as opposed to sighing for the past.

With so many triggers of stress and ways to drain our self-confidence, it’s easy to see why the past can haunt us – both in terms of previous positive and negative experiences. Look forward, embrace all the good things in your life today, and let yesterday become merely a memory that won’t serve as a mental roadblock. To help cleanse your bias and develop a fresh new perspective on tomorrow, reach out to a professional therapist for help achieving that extra motivational boost. We’re happy to help.