Q: I have tried many times to make changes in my life, but each time I wind up back in the same old place. Is this a problem for other people too? How can I change this pattern?
A: I cannot comment on your particular situation without more information, but the scenario you describe is a fairly common complaint. Often, the roadblock to creating lasting change is pain that one has experienced in the past. It often acts like an anchor, tying us to our earlier times and making it impossible to move forward. In order to take those steps, therefore, we sometimes must first go backwards.
What I mean by this is that we often have to examine painful past memories and experiences, in order to gain new understandings, so that we can untie ourselves from the past. We need to become aware of the tremendous amount of energy that is required to hold onto the pain. If we identify ourselves by our pain, and see ourselves in the victim role, it is unlikely that we will ever become much more than that. In order to let go of the pain, we must somehow find a way to forgive those that hurt us.
Understand that I do not mean that we have to accept what they did, but rather to realize that they did what they did because they didn’t know better, or, they didn’t think,or maybe they were ill or had been so badly hurt by others that their own ability to care for someone was damaged. Whatever their reason, they did not treat you badly because you deserved it but because of their own deficits. In other words, you do not have to be ashamed of your past because you did not cause it. Yet, if we give up our old familiar pain, we have to face the unknown.
It is human nature to be afraid of change and thus, many of us stay anchored to the past. When we learn to let go of the past, we free up new energy with which to tackle the future. Then we can begin to make real and lasting changes. These steps can rarely be taken alone, but under the guidance of a trusted and qualified psychotherapist, who believes in this same viewpoint, you will quickly begin to make the desired changes.