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Ghosts From the Past

I’ve known for many years that unprocessed past experiences can influence the quality of my life and intrude into the present. In hindsight, I can usually work out why I’ve behaved unskilfully and learn what I need to do, to develop the skills to function more effectively in the present.

I still remember very clearly a time when I was able to witness how I was re-creating a very painful experience from my childhood. When I was four, I was placed in a kindergarten of 5 year olds. This may have worked well for some children, but I didn’t have the necessary developmental resources to make sense of my environment and to become a part of it. I vividly remember watching the ‘parade’ go by, without having a clue as to how to join in. This ‘out of step’ feeling lasted up to Class 6, when I became the leader of a gang whose only delight was in creating havoc both inside and outside the classroom. So I built a strong sense of identity and belonging, over the top of my feelings of lostness and inadequacy around groups.

Years ago, as an adult, I joined an eight day intensive training workshop of mostly strangers on an island. I was fascinated to discover that this experience triggered all the old feelings I had at primary school. Before I left the island, I was able to witness very clearly from beginning to end how my mind recreated the four year old’s struggle with this new group of people. Unfortunately for both myself and them, once again I covered my feelings of inadequacy by rebelling against perceived authority and making up and following my own rules of behaviour.

From observing myself and others, it is clear to me that as adults, we create the quality of our lives from moment to moment and can choose whether we live in ‘heaven’ or ‘hell.’ Sometimes we contribute to the raw material, ‘the pain and the gold’ in our life and sometimes we don’t. Through the way we are aware of and can digest and learn from our raw material, we can easily turn ‘pain into gold’ or indeed, ‘gold into pain.’

One of the deciding factors as to whether we live in ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’ is self- awareness. Only to the extent that we can recognise and heal around the ghosts from the past that threaten to intrude into our present, can we effectively manage ourselves, and relate skilfully to others.

It’s a great relief, firstly to recognise how these ghosts of the past can intrude into the present, creating havoc for both ourselves and others. And secondly to release ourselves from unconsciously recreating these past painful experiences within our self and in our relationship to others.

Sound easy? It isn’t. It takes courage and tenacity. However, for the immense gains, it is worth the journey.

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