When Others Remind Me Negatively of My Past
If there are people in your life you wish were not, because they remind you of the person you used to be, spend some time examining this line of thinking. Most likely this isn’t a positive reaction unless these people are highly dangerous and personally toxic to your wellbeing—the ultimate source of your negative responses. In many cases, it’s simply not possible or practical to rid certain people from our lives, (i.e. co-workers, neighbors, family.) If you are dedicated to personal growth and better mental fitness, you can work to address and change your thought process for your own betterment and for better relationships with others.
What are the things about you, of which others remind you, that evoke such negative feelings? Obviously, these reminders are unpleasant, at the very least. Are the reminders of your past truly part of your past, or are there relative behaviors you engage in sometimes? Is it “who you used to be” that causes you to want to push those reminder people out of your life? Or is it the negative circumstances, connotations, or stereotypes that the former you experienced, that trigger the disdain at present? Specifically pinpointing the cause of your wanting to put up walls against—or to get away entirely from--people in your life, is imperative in your personal development.
After answering the previous questions, it may be helpful to make a list of as many things about the former you, of which people remind you. Beside each negative reminder write what you’ve replaced the “old” thing/behavior/circumstance with, and if you find it is still present in your life, write down alternatives you could choose to actually make the change. Make another column, and beside each negative thing and its alternative, record how long (period of time) you’ve lived differently. Make a final column for listing one positive that resulted from the original negative. This may require more thought than any of the other columns, and likely it will be something that eventually came about as a result of several steps or occurrences. For example, if someone reminds you that you had a drug problem, for the next column you would record something that has replaced much of the time you used to spend doing drugs. In the following column, you would record how long you’ve lived without drugs. In the final column, perhaps there is a healthy friendship with someone now in your life, as a result of your former drug problem—a counselor, a mentor, or maybe a significant other that you’d never have had as your former self. If there are blanks in some of the columns, that’s ok. Just consider actions you could take or continue to take that could help lead to your filling in the blanks.
The idea is that the list and referring to it will help you accept the person you used to be. You don’t have to like any of it, but it’s important to connect the positives now in your life to the negatives of your past. It’s empowering to recognize progress and/or changes you’ve made. By doing so, you continue to grow as a person.
What is it about these other people that reminds you of your past? Were they friends you made during that time? Did they engage in undesirable behavior that you did? If so, do they still? If these are important people in your life, people you see regularly and/or must have in your life, (e.g. co-workers) consider having thoughtful conversations with them. Depending on the person and circumstance(s), merely communicating with him/her—and if/when possible—opening up to discuss your negative reactions or feelings, could be incredibly liberating. It may also be just as liberating to the other person. If you find yourself continually running from people or wanting to run from them, it’s most likely not others from whom you are truly trying to run. You are probably, ultimately running from yourself, or more specifically, your past self. Try turning around and taking a calm, and as objective a look as you can, at your past self. Until you do, you could very continue to be stuck in run mode and plateau in your personal growth and development.