Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Our Past and Self-Victimization

Many of us have had a very painful past. The key is to learn to leave our past in the past and not to allow it to control our present moment.
It is very common, especially in initial and early sessions with patients, that it becomes very cl
ear to me that they are allowing their painful past to define who they are.
It is often a paradox. We certainly need to address our past in order to glean the important lessons from these experiences, yet, we need to avoid the common situation where one either decides or allows their past to become their persona.

Yes, we can be proud to be survivors of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. But, to wear these accomplishments as a badge of honor is allowing these

 experiences to define us. We need to be bigger than our stories. We can learn what we need to about our past, but concentrate our efforts on creating ourselves in the here and now.
Many times I have begun work with a new patient and the initial session is focused on a painful past.

When I begin to assist these patients in accepting complete responsibility for creating the life they want right now they often believe that I am not understanding what they have been through. I begin to see that this particular patient has become so entangled with their history and often they seek to assign responsibility for their difficulties in their life on their past. They become victims and what is worse is that they continue the victimization of themselves by allowing the pain of their past to color and frame their present moments.
Many times, these painful experiences of the past allow the patient to excuse themselves of the responsibility for their lives. In many instances, my pointing this out to them infuriates them. It is at this moment that I know that I am correct in my assessment. I have had new patients actually leave my office in a huff telling me that they never wish to work with me again because I do not understand what they have been through. I explain to them that I may not know exactly what their experience was like but what I know for sure is that they do not have to live their life continuing the pattern of the abuse. I tell them that when they are ready to change this once and for all to contact me and we will get to work. Very often, I hear from them again and their intention is now clear and they really get to work.
Too many therapists, in my opinion, treat their patients like wounded sheep. They metaphorically hold their hand and either consciously or subconsciously keep them stuck. How disrespectful to their patient’s dignity and ability to move beyond their past. They clearly become part of the problem.

EXCERPT: "A Prescription For Contentment"
Dr. Crewson Andrew Martin, PhD
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