I don’t believe in living in the past but believe it incredibly important to make some sense of it in order to understand ourselves today. If we don’t know where we come from, how will we ever know where we are going.
The past is important in that it has shaped us into the people we are today. Our lives are dictated in a way by our experiences, good and bad, and if we don’t understand them then it is difficult to fully understand ourselves.
Many of us recreate events unconsciously because we don’t understand them. I married my father, or somebody very similar because my father walked out on us when I was a very young child. I know it’s quite common that we might marry someone very similar to our own parents, familiarity maybe but it’s good to understand why. When we understand where we come from it’s less likely that we will keep repeating the same mistakes.
I spent a period of time not believing in myself as my experience told me I wasn’t worth believing in, I had a terrible time with rejection of any sort. I still don’t like it much but I know now, I’m okay. I won’t continually be judged because of who I was, but who I am today. I spent a long time gathering possessions that might up my status somehow, I didn’t come from a wealthy home and believed I needed possession to speak for me. Only on thinking about where I come from and getting to know myself better am I able to let some of these things go.
Life story work is a process that’s often undertaken with children in care so they are able to recognise their past, understand the present and plan for the future. It’s also a routine part of preparing children for adoption. Life story work is often used with those suffering dementia to develop a biography and help those caring for them communicate their backgrounds, like interests, identity and who and what is important to them. It’s hugely beneficial in helping someone understand their past experiences and life events.
Our life stories are so important, we need to understand and own our stories. Some of us do better than others, writers for might as they find inspiration from their own experiences. I’m sure there are plenty of other examples such as therapists who have had to undergo therapy as part of their training. But I find it amazing how many people don’t understand their own stories.
I’ve worked with life stories during my career with children, I’ve also worked on my own life story and helped others with this too. I think life story work is beneficial to anyone wanting a better understanding of themselves, it’s healing and can remove the blocks that hold us back. It’s more than just a therapeutic tool, it’s helpful to anyone working on themselves, and lets be honest aren’t we all?