Your past shapes you & that’s why you are who you are at the present moment
I would like to dedicate a few minutes to the topic of how your past shapes you and what’s going on in your life. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why am I me?” “Why do I think, feel and react the way I do?” “Why am I the person I am (and not the person I want to be)?” “And why – darn it – can’t I really get out of my skin?” Very good questions. The answers are below.
- Your girlfriend gets one Prince Charming after another while you keep hooking up with the wrong guys?
- A buddy sees the good in everything while you sense threats everywhere?
- Your colleague is confidently striving for a promotion, while you would never dare to do it?
- Have you ever asked yourself in these situations: Why am I me? And why can’t I be like her or him?
If you want to know why you think, feel and act the way you do, you can take a look into your past. Because a large part of what makes you who you are today, you learned at some point in exactly the same way. You were shown some things, others you created yourself because they have proven themselves in the past.
The interaction of genes and environment
Although your past shapes you, we cannot forget that a part of it is genetic, of course. Depending on what disposition you were born with, you meet the challenges of life differently from the start than your friends, colleagues or acquaintances do. For example, you were born with a unique personality trait. That’s why you might feel overwhelmed and empty when you’re around a lot of people, while that’s when your friend really thrives.
But even our systems are not a law carved in stone, but develop in the interplay of genes and environment. Depending on which plants are subsidized or not, we develop in different directions. It is the experiences we have throughout life that shape us. These are what make us the people we are today.
You don’t have to look so much at the drastic experiences, such as the loss of a parent or a serious accident. Just the way you were raised made you someone different than me. These differences show up in different attitudes, habits, and beliefs.
Perhaps you have often been asked to be strong, to manage things independently and to assert yourself. Then you might still be thinking today: “Pull yourself together” or “You have to manage this on your own”.
Imprints: Why am I me?
Why am I me? But embossing can also be much more subtle. Humans learn a great deal by observing others. We see how our parents treat themselves, each other, and others, and we do the same. If you’ve had a habit of not talking about feelings, you may never have been able to access your emotions. You, therefore, still swallow any hint of anger or sadness immediately.
Or maybe you have always seen how your mother sacrificed herself for everyone and put herself last, and you are now carrying on this pattern – without having actively chosen it.
We are not always aware of our imprints. We simply adopt what comes naturally to us, what we know, or what has been taught to us, and then we may carry it on throughout life (and in turn, pass it on to our children).
How your past shapes you: Experiences influence my thinking, feeling and acting
So if you’re wondering why am I me… Why do I have certain fears? What is the reason for my plaguing self-doubt? Why do I have trouble allowing closeness or do I always throw myself into relationships that aren’t good for me? … then the reason for this lies in the experiences you have had throughout your life.
You weren’t born with it. You learned it – maybe because you copied it from your parents. Maybe because you got hurt in a previous relationship and you raised your walls as a result.
If you think badly of yourself and have feelings of inferiority – you were not born with it. You formed this negative self-image because of the experiences you had and because of the reactions of those around you.
If you tend to fall into negative thought spirals, then chances are that someone in your immediate environment has done the same and you have simply adopted these behaviors.
Much of what defines us today can be explained by early childhood experiences and the environment in which we grew up. We are shaped by our caregivers – for better or for worse.
How habits control our everyday life
By the time we grow up, we have already formed countless habits:
We have habits about how we interact with other people when someone criticizes us. Also when we are overwhelmed, or when someone praises us. One goes into confrontation, the other apologizes, the third takes flight. Depending on how you learned it in the past or how it turned out to be useful to you.
We’ve formed habits about how we deal with grief, with rejection, or with success (e.g., burying our heads in the sand or soothing grief with chocolate).
We have created customs and patterns about what we do to relax (e.g., play video games, bathe, jog).
We’ve adopted habits about what we think about ourselves (e.g. “It’s definitely my fault” or “I can never make it”).
All of these habits make it really easy for our brain to filter out the appropriate response in any given situation. You just fall back on the existing nerve connections, e.g. we release the felt stress by relaxing extensively in the bathtub.
But they also mean that we remain trapped in our habits, making it incredibly difficult to change anything. They keep us the same person and tick the way we do.
Actually, habits are a wonderful thing. But most of the time we have also developed one or the other stereo type behavior that is not at all useful to us because it causes us, for example, too shy away from challenges or to be in a bad mood.
How your past shapes you: What has been learned can be unlearned and overwritten
The good news is, that everything that has been learned can also be unlearned. Our brains remain malleable throughout life, and if we do something differently often enough, we can override our habits. And that is also the thought I would like to pass on to you: Yes, the experiences we have in life shape us. They shape our thoughts, our habits and our identity. But we always have the opportunity to give our life a different direction by becoming aware of the patterns that guide us and make new experiences.
Is that child’s play? No, unfortunately not.
Do you need to change? Only if you don’t want it.
It’s not about becoming a “better” person, it’s about becoming a happier person and being able to live the life you dream of.
It’s about being able to change how your past shapes you and something you don’t want to have the same experiences anymore. Your past doesn’t have to become your future…💜🦋.
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