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  • Nick

Those who can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it

There is a very famous poem (especially in counselling arena) from Phillip Larkin which basically says that your parents can’t help but pass on and then add beliefs and behaviours from their own parents - both good and bad. He actually uses a little more fruity language than I do but he gets his point across.

We are a product of our parents or carers, for good or for bad; we have been influenced, we have been moulded and no matter how good or bad your up bringing was, your formative years still have a massive impact on your how you currently behave and react.

I always had the opinion that my upbringing was like something out of Disney. There were lots of singing animals that would awaken me in the morning and I had nothing to complain about. We didn’t have much money but there was lots of love. That paradigm lived with me for years, decades even and I never understood why my brother was so difficult; he had the same parents as I did and so he must be something wrong with him.

My ‘story’ shifted massively after entering my third lot of personal counselling and it took a proper look at what my parents did to me for me to explore that, maybe it wasn’t as idyllic as I once thought. I am not talking abuse or mistreatment (I was still very lucky) but it wasn’t all sweetness and light either.

The reason I bring this up is that for most of us we don’t question our past; we don’t look at what we did or more importantly why and so we ‘are condemned to repeat’ the past. A personal example, my mother was the leader, what she said goes; her mood would dictate how the house felt and how everyone else felt and so over the years I would make it my goal to make sure that she was happy. I would never complain, argue or disrupt. I would control the situation and that became my normal.

‘My normal’ was controlling everything around me, making sure that we were on time; we were organised on holidays and a million other things that made sure that nothing bad could happen to me or my family – even though they were about 100 miles away. My behaviour was so instinctive that I was able to live a pretty successful life. I even controlled the dog walks so that no hassle or other dogs would cause disruption.

That hubris was highlighted to me when after a planned and controlled walk, I fell over a stile and was getting manically licked by two stupid Labradors while laying on my back in a puddle. I call it hubris, as no matter what you do or how much you plan you have very little in your life that is controllable; therefore, you spend the vast amount of time being anxious and planning.

It doesn’t sound much of a life when you put it like that. I am very fortunate to spend hours looking at my past and working out why I behave in the way I do and although I no longer plan everything, I am still not very comfortable in chaos either – so more work to be done.

Looking at your past can be very helpful if things don’t make sense in the present. If you find yourself behaving the same way as your parents and aren’t happy with what that is doing to your kids, then come and speak to us. If what made sense doesn’t any more than it is time to pick up the phone or book a free 30-minute session with us..

Give us a call on 01386 571 114 (Evesham area) or 01905 671 264 (Droitwich area)

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