Why you might be a prisoner to your past (and not even know it)

“…these general patterns are so deeply programmed by one’s psychic history that they control the choice and character of all relationships. Then one is a prisoner of the past.” James Hollis, The Eden Project

I’m not a coach that spends a lot of time delving into my client’s childhood patterns. My clients are usually pretty self-aware. And when those patterns surface through our coaching, they’re easy to see.

My clients who are struggling in their marriages often cannot understand why their spouse thinks or acts a certain way. So I help them to better understand what’s driving that behavior. I help them recognize their partner’s unconscious patterns. 

When we understand something, that gives us new information to work with so that we can create better results in our relationship. Also, when we can see how these patterns were created (typically in their childhood), my clients can often find compassion and understanding more readily than just defaulting to anger and judgment.

Here are some examples:

Why is someone controlling?

If we have felt powerless in our lives, particularly as a child, then as an adult, we will often find ways to control others. What’s more, they will unconsciously be attracted to people that are easy to control. All in order to not feel powerless in their own lives.

Why is someone a people-pleaser?

If our parents or teachers pointed their love in our direction when we would do what THEY wanted us to (and took that love or approval away when we didn’t do as they would like), then we learned very quickly that we will have love when we prioritize everyone else’s needs above our own. In this scenario, we would quickly become a people-pleaser. Likely will have gone into a care-taking profession. And will create codependent relationships with wounded people who need to be helped.

Why is someone a workaholic?

If we learned that the measure of our value is based upon the results we produce – which in childhood may have been good grades, academic accolades, or sporting wins – then in order to have value, we can never stop producing results. Our self-worth is literally wrapped-up inside the idea that I’m only as good as my latest accomplishment. So, of course, we keep the pedal to the metal when it comes to work.

Why is someone emotionally avoidant? 

If we never experienced emotional closeness with our parents as a child, then intimacy and closeness feels uncomfortable at best. It feels dangerous at worst. We may choose partners that also have difficulty with closeness. So we can keep them at arm’s length and legitimize our need for distance.

Why is someone emotionally needy?

If we grew up in a household where the parents were there for us only sporadically, then we learned to not trust their presence, and therefore require more consistent reassurance of their love.

As you can see, your childhood wounds – when left unaddressed – create scripts for your life that you unconsciously follow as an adult. Leaving you a prisoner of your past.

And we’re not even aware of it….

And those unconscious behaviors show up in our most intimate relationships because that’s where we have the most vulnerability.

Are you a prisoner of your past?

If you know that your marriage could benefit from a deeper understanding of one another, I would love to equip you with the tools to be able to do that. You can schedule a complimentary Truth & Clarity session to see if there’s a fit for us to work together.

Why you might be a prisoner to your past (and not even know it)