As a Counselor Life Coach, BPD Coach and Mental Health Coach, A.J. Mahari talks with clients every day who are in the on-going experience of having their footsteps from the past obstruct their here-and-now in ways that mean unidentified and unreached goals and dreams. Footsteps from the past do not have to continue to obstruct your here-and-now. Mahari knows first-hand that the first step in creating a here-and-now unfolding authenticity in your life journey – to reach your promise and potential and unleash your passion – is to awaken to the awareness that you are looking back more than you are living now and more than you can look ahead with any confidence.
The more you live with, in, from, and through unresolved past issues in your life, the more you are and will remain disconnected from who the Self in you really is today – from who you really are. Footsteps of unresolved emotions from the past cast a long shadow that effects people knowing who they really are and negatively impacts relationships.
Footsteps from the past obstruct, if not utterly obliterate the here-and-now. What is experienced repeatedly in the lives of those carrying the unresolved and unrelenting painful and negative experience of childhood (or parts of childhood) is the experience of a young and wounded child – not the experience of an emotionally mature adult.
How can you see where you are, let alone where you might be going, or want to go, if you are looking back. Back at the trail of footsteps that was a journey already taken? How can you know who you are when you are essentially still who you were?
If you are still living through unresolved childhood psychological and emotional woundedness you cannot fully experience the here-and-now as it is actually unfolding because you will be triggered back to re-experiencing what you have not yet worked through, accepted, and/or resolved.
In order for your authentic self to be fully known and lived through it is necessary to grieve losses of the past and to resolve any issues of abandonment, neglect, abuse, invalidation, and/or unmet needs from that past. It is necessary to not only identify what your past issues are, but also necessary to accept what was, and to choose to work to forgive those who hurt you and then to forgive yourself. Many may wonder, why the heck do I have to forgive myself for what someone else did to me or failed to do for me in my past?
Any young child significantly hurt or psychologically and emotionally wounded in childhood in ways that negatively impact his or her maturation process internalizes the pain of abandonment, abuse, neglect, and invalidation. This negative internalization of one’s experience creates shame. Shame that separates one from knowing who he or she really is, to one degree or another.
Even if your parents or caregivers meant the best for you, things can go awry in the process of attempting to bond and attach in the healthy ways necessary to develop a healthy and consistent sense of self. It isn’t always a case of malice or hatred or pre-meditated wrong-doing. For some failure or inability to securely attach and bond with (usually) mother is over-come to varying degrees. For others a common consequence of this is a personality disorder.
Due to the internalization of this negative experience in early childhood which usually involves feeling/being abandoned – emotionally/psychologically, or financially, and/or physically – toxic shame is created that often disconnects one from the burgeoning authentic self causing one to develop a pathological false self. A false self found at the core of personality disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, to name just a couple of examples.
What happens then in the child’s experience is that what is felt about a parent that is negative and painful is set aside, eventually internalized, but initially cannot be left with the parent it belongs to because that parent usually also represents the child’s life-line to survival.
Children tend to blame themselves for what others did to them or didn’t do for them, or both. Growing up with that sense of toxic shame and often not knowing who one really is means that a false self persona develops. This false self persona exists to protect the child’s survival. Often children in this situation “act up” or “act out” in the eyes of others when really they are crying out for help in the only ways they know how to.
There is often a legacy of choices, actions, behaviors , and even patterns of thought, that lead one to need to forgive oneself for not being able to be who one really was. That is to say when one is focused on protecting from abandonment, abuse, neglect, invalidation, and the like, there is often a lot about the past that one regrets.
What parents or other adults did in your past may end up confused with what you did. You may not clearly understand why whatever happened in your childhood did happen. It can even be a struggle to believe what you know happened to you. All of this can lead to needing to forgive yourself as part of the process of healing past childhood trauma that has you looking back at your past footsteps as opposed to the footsteps that you need or want to take to move forward in your life.
Learning to trust your Self as you find yourself means needing to forgive yourself for all that you may blame yourself for. It is really never the child’s fault. Though most every wounded and damaged child will feel guilty, blame him/herself and suffer the pain of toxic shame.
You cannot truly forgive others until you forgive yourself.
Forgiveness is the road upon which you can create new footsteps moving forward and stop looking back to past footsteps. Forgiveness, which is a process, in its own right, is the soul-rain that can wash away the footprints of the past that stand in your way and that continue to obstruct your connection to authentic self and to looking forward instead of looking back.
Forgiveness is a gift that awaits you. A gift that you need to find and give to yourself. Forgiving others isn’t really about them, now. It’s about you. You knowing you and moving forward in your life. Forgiveness is not forgetting or even re-connecting, necessarily. Forgiveness is remembering and choosing to radically accept and mindfully let go.
© A.J. Mahari, 2009 – All rights reserved.