There is nothing wrong with you for wanting to avoid facing the emotional pain of your past. Avoidance may feel like the right thing to do, but facing your ghosts and dealing with them is the right thing to do. Get rid of the idea that you have no control over your emotional baggage—you absolutely have control over it. Here are three tips to get past your past relationship ghosts:
1. Acknowledge your emotional ghosts. This is not about blame your parents, girlfriend, boyfriend, ex-husband, old friends, or anyone else. And it is not that these ghost sources necessarily actually abused you—although this may have happened as well. Whatever the extent of the dysfunctional behaviors and patterns you have been exposed to, you must remember that you are the one in control—not the ghost. Either you control the emotional ghost or it controls you. There’s no one else who can help you out on this. If you blame another person for doing this or that to you, you will feel like a victim. If you stay in victim land, you will learn nothing and be doomed to repeat negative behaviors or perpetuate negative attitudes indefinitely.
2. Accept responsibility for what happened. Say to yourself (or the other person, if appropriate), “I allowed myself to fall prey to your negative ideas and toxic thoughts about me. But I will not allow you to control me anymore.“ We all can move on and grow. Just because you were told you were not good enough by your ex-boyfriend does not mean you have to view your current relationship partner as “impossible“ to please. Just because you discovered that you were gay and were ostracized by your classmates as a teenager, does not mean that you cannot find acceptance, and love, as an adult…You get the idea—you can overcome your ghosts, no matter what baggage they seemingly use to haunt you.
3. Differentiate yourself from your ghosts by listing how you are different from them. Embrace the qualities that others value in you. Maybe your mother was angry. Take note of how you are different from your mother. Remind yourself that she was angry because her father died and the family had little financial resources and your mom ended up being a mom to her seven siblings. Your life is different—your husband lost his job and you were supportive, not angry. Your daughter spilled soda on the couch and you started to get angry but you caught yourself in a way your mother was not capable of.
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