My past is haunting me

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

My past is haunting me

Almost everyone of us is haunted by his past in a way or another. You might be thinking that those who are haunted by their pasts are only the people who are suffering from breakups or trust problems but in reality almost all of the psychological problems we suffer from are somehow related to our past.

Depression is a feeling of regret about something that happened in the past that doesn’t seem to have a solution, Lack of self confidence is nothing more than a reflection of the beliefs you have formed about yourself in your past and social anxiety is nothing more than the feelings you get when you recall fearful situations that happened in your past.

A child who was neglected by his parents might grow up feeling unsafe or insecure, A teen who was always mocked and bullied by his colleagues might become a socially withdrawn adult and a person who have failed many times in the past might believe that he is a loser.

Every action that we take is influenced by the beliefs and the experiences we had in our past.

How to prevent my past from haunting me

In lots of cases where our pasts haunts us we may not be aware of the fact that our current behavior is affected by our past. Sometimes our minds choose to suppress the past events instead of making us aware of them because of the pain associated with bringing them to the surface.

In other cases people lie to themselves by trying to attribute the current problems in their lives to other things. For example a person who has no social life might say that he loves work and that's the reason he stays there all day while in fact he stays at work because he has no where else to go.

The first step in preventing your past from haunting you is to bring all the past experiences that affected you to the surface. For example if you were bullied by your class mates at school then you should start remembering these events and recalling them so that you become consciously aware of them.

In my book The ultimate guide to break any bad habit i explained how people get addicted to bad habits just to cover other problems that they are suppressing such as lack of self confidence and depression.

It might require some courage to bring these painful past experiences to your awareness but you must do it because its one of the few methods that can help you get over the past.

Using cognitive behavior therapy to forget the past

Here is how to prevent your past from haunting you using cognitive behavioral therapy:

  • Spot the past’s effect: just as I said, being aware of your past events is the first step towards helping you recognize the situations where your past affects your decisions and behavior
  • Answer your doubts: Whenever you feel that your past is affecting your behavior remind yourself that these doubts you have are only a result of the things that happened in the past and that they have no relation to the situation you are experiencing now. For example if you fear to trust men because you were betrayed by one of them in your past then remind yourself that the first betrayal happened in the past because the man was a cheater and that this doesn’t mean that all men are cheaters or that all your future encounters will be with cheaters
  • Wait until the process becomes automatic: in the beginning you will have to do a lot of effort to monitor your thoughts, to answer your doubts and to keep reassuring yourself during these situations but after a short while this process will become an automatic one and it will become a part of your normal way of thinking

It takes a lot of courage to face your past and to admit your failures but once you take this step you will be able to get rid of the bad emotions that are resulting from being haunted by your past.

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