So many clients who have feelings, habits, behaviours that they cannot control.  They have troubled relationships and cannot attract someone that they can love and who loves them in return.  I often find myself asking them “are you ready to shed your past?”

They feel lonely, isolated, and broken.  It is time for us to stop believing that it is only “me” who has problems and to realize that it comes with the territory of being human.  As Sigmund Freud put it, neurosis is the rule, not the exception.  Grasping this can help you to see that we are not alone.  It is also the starting point for being curious and understanding what went wrong and learning that you have a choice and you can shed your past.

There is scientific evidence that early parental care is crucial in forming who we are.  People are generally very protective of their parents and don’t like to think that they have harmed us in some way.  This means that they are not open to attributing how they currently think, feel and behave to their upbringing. The consequences of burying the past condemns us to repeat behaviours and limiting beliefs about ourselves.

Our role in the dynamics of our family, our gender, position, looks and whether we are a high or a low achiever, seen as special by one of our parents or intimates, or if we were an unwanted ugly duckling, will still be affecting us currently.

The unique combination of projections –clever, pretty, sensible, lazy, stupid, fussy – that each of our parents placed on us has an impact on our role in the family and the wider environment.   These projections can greatly undermine our self-confidence, limit us, or put pressure on us.

Except for a handful of extreme and rare mental illnesses such as manic depression and schizophrenia, the way we were cared for as children is, in most respects far more influential on who we are today. If you want to be happy, therefore you need to shed your past.

The very size and shape of our brain depends significantly on how parents related to us in early life and whether we suffer adult mental illness.

90 percent of people in prison are suffering from a mental illness, in most cases caused by their upbringing;  If the childcare of the next generation could be improved, it would lead to a very substantial reduction in the amount of crime.

It makes perfect sense therefore that if the leaders of a nation invests in the first years of life it is the best money it can spend; for both children and the nation.  Alas, these are the years that receive the least attention.

Our intelligence and academic performance have a great deal to do with our social background.  If children from poor homes score an average of 10 points lower than affluent children, this is almost certainly more due to upbringing than to genetics.  Proven by the fact that children from poor homes who are adopted by middle-class parents score an average 12 points more than their biological parents.

We tend to feel more favourably towards strangers who resemble loved parents or siblings.  We expect strangers who remind us of past figures to react to us in the same way as our relatives once did, and these expectations in turn feed back into how we feel.  If a person resembles our brother or sister, beside whom we always felt inadequate, being in this person’s company may make us feel that way.  We project our siblings’ traits on to the newcomer, then reinvent ourselves as inadequate by comparison.  Most dramatic of all, we are liable to manipulate people to behave in ways that resemble the originals – so powerful is our need to reconstruct the past in the present.

Most of us are aware of repeating patterns in our friendships or love life, and up until now you may have attributed this to a tendency to fall for the same sort of lover or to seek out certain kinds of people as friends.  If you want to attract the right person in your life you need to shed your past.

In my next article I will share in greater detail how we unconsciously attract people who wounded in the same way that we were as children and how we can actually heal the past through intimate relationships.

I am Linda Clarke, personal coach, relationship counsellor and mental health expert with 14 years’ experience in private practice.

I have helped many people heal their past by reframing what happened using hypnotherapy, NLP and personal coaching.

I have been featured in several South African radio and TV programmes and was part of a Fox TV film documentary, where I was working with Nelson Mandela’s Granddaughter overcome a phobia.

I offer a free no obligation 30 minute zoom session and reduced rates during covid-19. Book your free session here

Read more about me

If you want to know more about how family life shapes who we are read “They F*** You Up. How To Survive Family Life by Oliver James.