03 Sep Connect the dots – examples
Connect the past to the present
Jeremy has a fear of small spaces. That’s not so uncommon, quite a few people have this fear. But Jeremy was bothered by this fear. He wanted to be an astronaut and knew that being afraid of small closed spaces wasn’t going to make it easy for him in the space shuttle. So he decided to deal with his fear. He began by thinking about just why he hated small spaces and then he remembered the time that his older brother locked him in a closet for a full day. He had to go to the bathroom so badly and ended up wetting himself before his brother finally let him out. He remembers his brother laughing at him when his brother finally opened the door and also threatening to do it again if Jeremy told his parents. So Jeremy didn’t and Jeremy has lived with the fear of small spaces ever since.
In this example, you can see the connection between being locked in a closet and fearing small spaces. But sometimes, understanding the influence of our past is not that easy. Sometimes the past can be influencing, or even haunting, us in a way we may not realize.
Below are three examples of situations where the connections between the past and the present may be more difficult to make. You may identify with none, one, two, or all of them. They do not, in any way, imply that this was YOUR situation. But you can feel free to apply these examples to your life to help you figure out some things, just keep in mind that these examples are just that – examples.
- Jeff’s father demanded only the best from him and therefore was super critical of Jeff’s work. In fact, when Jeff had to write a school essay, his father demanded to see it, then rewrote it and said Jeff had to turn in his father’s copy. Jeff felt shame that he was not smart enough to write his own essay. This kind of behavior from his father lasted years and ultimately, influenced the way Jeff saw his abilities. Today, Jeff doubts he can be successful and feels stress anytime he has to perform as he feels like he just won’t be good enough no matter how much he prepares. However, Jeff doesn’t connect the way he feels about himself to the way his father treated him, but can you see the connection?
- Jennifer’s mother was an alcoholic and, when drunk, she treated Jennifer poorly, calling her names and sometime becoming violent. But when she was sober she was really nice to Jennifer. Today, Jennifer doesn’t know when she can trust someone’s love – it might be taken away at a moment’s notice. She also feels like she can’t trust the idea that other people might take an interest in her for who she is. Can you see the connection?
- Jessie was raised in one of the most dangerous cities in the country. Gang violence was everywhere. His family never turned on lights because then people could shoot you through the window at night. Now, Jessie is afraid of lit rooms at night and shivers when there is a loud noise. That’s normal for him, can you see why?
Connecting the dots is not always easy!
Sometimes we don’t know why we have a fear of something, or why we behave in a certain way. That’s normal. We don’t always remember everything that happens to us when we are young. In fact, sometimes the brain shuts down certain memories to protect the “self”. So if you are aware of a fear or trait you have that you would like to change, don’t worry if you don’t know from where it came, you can still change it!
You may have a memory of a past event that you can’t seem to connect to who you are now. That’s fine too. Connecting the dots takes time. One day the lightbulb may go off and you’ll think, Oh, that’s it! Wow. I never thought of that before but it makes total sense. And boom! You’ve connected some dots.
Keep reading to learn how to connect your past to your present so that you can have a better understanding of who you are. That way YOU can determine how your past will influence you and what you will learn from it.
What did you feel when reading the examples given? Pick one example and tell how you would feel if you were that person.