Exploring our past gives us information about what we bring with us into our present day relationships. We may not always find the answers we want, but we find enough clues to help re-direct, fix or change courses today.
Patterns are repeated from generation to generation.
Children growing up with an alcoholic parent are only too aware of how destructive addictions can have on the family. They swear they won’t repeat the same mistakes. Yet, more times than we want to recognize, children growing up in alcoholic families end up marrying an alcoholic or someone with an addictive personality.
We repeat what we are familiar with. It is what we know. To keep from repeating them, we need to have new information to work with.
Remembering those good times
We often forget the positive experiences we had growing up. There were those times when we knew we were loved and appreciated, complimented or encouraged. Who were involved in these affirming experiences?
While its important to recognize unhealthy patterns, it is also important to acknowledge those times when we felt good about who we were and find ways to strengthen them.
What worked and why?
Which relationships did we have growing up that made you feel good about yourself? Which were validating, uplifting and encouraging? Did you have a special relationship with a parent or grandparent and if so, what made it special? Did you have a friend you could share anything with? Perhaps you had fond memories of a pet you could talk to, hug and who would be with you through thick and thin.
What made those relationships special? What was important to you? Was it loyalty, knowing you could share anything and knew it would be kept confidential? Could you be vulnerable and confide your fears and still be accepted. Perhaps, you shared similar interests or spent hours together doing nothing.
As you think about what was important in past relationships, you can begin to find ways to bring those same attributes into your current relationships.
Who do you hang around with today? Are you trying to be someone you’re not because you think that is what it will take to belong? Can you take the initiative and be the kind of friend you want another to be? Do others know you are trustworthy?
Make a list of the attributes you think are important in any relationship and start incorporating them into your relationships today.
You can’t change others. You can only change your own behaviors. But they influence those around us.
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Also in the RELATIONSHIPS series:
Part 1: Relationships: Who Needs Them?
Part 7: Relationships: Unspoken Rules