getting past your past
“Most of us in midlife have questions about dealing with anger, and I think I know why. Perhaps you were raised in a house where the expression of anger was basically not allowed. Maybe only your dad was allowed to get angry, and the rest of you scurried around trying to avoid becoming the target of his rage.
If that’s the case, you may have a deep, even preverbal fear of expressing your anger. It took me a couple of years of counseling to realize I had no access to my anger. Whenever I started to get upset, I became uncomfortable. I would suppress it as best I could, but sometimes, if it kept coming, I would have trouble breathing.
I ended up going to an anger workshop, whose purpose was to teach us how normal it is to feel angry. Anger can be the best indicator that the self is being abused, and we are correct not to take that lightly. Our anger may show us where our lives are not working and wake us up to where they need to change. The leaders of this workshop also pointed out that without anger there can be no joy. We are meant to have the full range of emotions.
Sometime after that workshop I had one of those revealing moments that you never forget. I was driving on the highway feeling terrible about the way my husband treated me. I was listening to a tape about anger and suddenly I started crying so uncontrollably that I had to pull over. There on the side of the road I slowly realized that underneath my sadness and pain was a gigantic reservoir of anger and frustration.
Women tend to hide their anger—even from themselves—within their pain and depression, because sadness is more acceptable in women than rage or bitterness. Men often have the opposite problem, because demonstrations of anger are more acceptable for men than crying or depression.
I felt ashamed to be angry. It was somehow unacceptable. I think I actually feared this response, because during childhood it could lead to bodily harm. But I came to this awareness as an adult, and as an adult I could allow myself my full range of emotions, which freed me up to simply feel my anger. The anger indicated to me that I needed to change my life circumstances in some major way.
It’s very important to monitor your bodily responses to the things in your life. Your body knows long before your mind registers when you’re being treated unfairly, when you’re feeling stressed, when you need to defend yourself. Learn to listen to your body—and listen carefully!
Having access to all your emotions is a big part of living an authentic life. Be aware of how you might be censoring various parts of yourself. Training in self-censorship starts very early, so it takes time to welcome back those parts lost in your upbringing.”
Excerpt from Midlife Magic: Becoming the Person You Are Inside!
The first step you must take if you are certain you are ready to believe in love again, is to learn what you can from your past relationships, and then MOVE ON!
You decide exactly what that looks like for you, and then do it!
In my case, I found I needed to call up a lover from thirty years before, and luckily he was willing to talk with me about our shared past. For me this was a transformative experience, a true catharsis, which helped me to move on to bigger and better experiences with love.
If your past love is not available or willing to meet with you to process your shared past, there are still a number of therapeutic options available to you.
Have you heard of Gestalt therapy? It is famous for offering catharsis through re-experiencing past traumas, but this time you get a chance to stand up for yourself and get what you need out of the experience.
Too often we get stuck in our past, because we have the false belief that we have not changed and grown since the last time we experienced love trauma.
You may know, on some level, that you are different now. But your greatest fear is that you will approach love in exactly the same way as you did before, and have the same disastrous result.
If you are are truly ready to do things differently and find genuine love this time, check out my book for clues to how you might transform the way you see your past experiences.
Then get ready to find real love this time! I did, and it is WONDERFUL!
There is no future in the past!
Just saw an EXCELLENT new movie! Have you seen the teen-focused film “The Perks of being a Wallflower”? If not, do so!
This film is very well done and well-worth watching, no matter what your age. The writing is flawless and contains a number of great quotes.
The main character, a freshman in high school at a new school, struggles with being unpopular at first, but finally finds a great group of friends, one of whom he falls in love with. But she of course thinks she’s in love with an older guy. So he goes and asks his favorite teacher why we fall in love with the ones we do. The answer is astoundingly simple and yet quite true: “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
This is so important to understand, especially when we are young and first starting to experiment with love. It appears there is no rhyme or reason to love and who we love, we just know when it happens.
We often start out with secret crushes, which we would never reveal to anyone else. We feel far to inadequate to expect any love in return. And when our egos finally feel strong enough to tell someone we love them, we only unconsciously choose those we think we deserve.
Others may say they love us, but we do not accept their love unless we feel we deserve it. Love may not seem like something to “deserve.” If we are lucky we will eventually find unconditional love, but when we are young we don’t understand what that is.
To feel worthy of love from others, self-love is essential. We must first find ways to love ourselves.
If we have not felt loved or loveable before, affection from others can feel quite difficult and confusing. It may take years of individual work with a good therapist to finally feel safe and worthy of a positive and loving relationship with another.
Of course few of us learn these important lessons at an early age.
It may take decades to really understand how love works, and many never do. Many simply give up on love.
But I still believe love is the most important experience life can offer us. What is life without love?
What could you do today that your future self will thank you for?
I decided to give this a bit of thought, and realized there are so many things we could each do to improve our immediate and long-term futures.
First of all remember that what you focus on grows, so be quite conscience of where you place your focus. Are you focused on what you enjoy or just what worries you?
While I always encourage living in the present, what can you do in this moment that your future self will thank you for?
Live in the current moment and know that’s the only moment you need to handle right now, so give it your full attention. When that moment has passed, move to the next moment.
Are you still breathing? Of course you are. You have just handled one moment. Are you ready for the next one? That brings you one step closer to full engagement in your life.
How does your future look from here? What don’t you see there that you really, really, really want? Make that missing experience your top priority now. What small thing could you do today that might bring that goal closer to this reality?
I remember back when I decided my greatest priority was finding ways to believe in love again at age 49. I realized first I would need to forgive myself for past mistakes.
I started reading everything I could find and listening to the music that would move me in the direction of feeling GREAT about love again. I even started my own dating service, because I didn’t like the idea of online dating. And sure enough, I ended up meeting my new love through Match.com!
That is a great story found only in my book!
Love works in mysterious ways, but you have to put some serious effort into focusing on what you want. Look inside and see what you find. Do you find yourself loveable? Would you want to marry you?
I have found that we attract those at the same emotional level as we are when we go in search of love, because love is all about providing mirrors for each other.
So work on becoming the best YOU you can be!