How can I avoid having past traumatic experiences affect my present and future?

I have family issues, and my dad was both violent and a cheater.

Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Sorry that your growing up years in the family were so unsafe and painful.

Everyone has family legacy patterns of behavior and ways of handling emotions, handed down to them simply by living.

All of what any child observes and how they are treated within their family context, creates their foundational expectations of others.

The best way of releasing yourself form hurtful interaction patterns is by being aware of your own feelings and intuition within close relationships.

If you have a similar sense of hurt or that something is wrong, yet in a familiar way, then most likely you are in a relational pattern similar to the negative ones in your family of origin.

This realization moment is your chance to more deeply see your own original trauma and try different ways of responding to these similar key situations.

This type of work takes a lot of repeated effort because trauma is deep and childhood trauma is attached to loving ones parents.

Expect slow progress and expect more than a few tears.

If it feels overwhelming then a therapist for guidance and support would be very beneficial to the work you'd be doing within yourself.

Sending lots of good luck!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Lynda Martens
Lynda Martens
Marriage & Family Therapist, MSc, RP, RMFT

Hi New York, There's no way to keep your past from affecting your present and future, because it's a huge part of who we are. The GOOD news is, though, that the effect doesn't have to be negative. I'm met many people who have horrific pasts and it helps them know confidently, every day, what kind of person they want to be and what kind of world they want to live in, and it helps them make really great decisions. You can accept your past, integrate your traumas and move forward in a very different way. 

If you see negative ways in which your past affects you (and this is also common), you are wise to seek professional help. Without knowing more, it's impossible to give you a lot of direction here. Basically, our past creates emotional "bruises" that are touch on and triggered by present situations. But our reactions are often about more than just the present moment. I think you know that.

I wish you the best as you sort it out.  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

I can imagine how incredibly difficult this must be for you. Having past traumatic experiences creap up on you without warning can be very scary and stressful. You may be suffering from symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder. Getting evaluated by a professional would be a good step to take next. By seeking treatment and having a therapist who you trust and can connect with, you will gain the ability to think about your experiences without it significantly interfering with your daily functioning. A therapist can also help you to develop new coping stragies to be used during recall of these experiences and help you to adopt healthy thought patterns. I would also recommend that you seek support from loved ones. Sometimes just talking about your experiences and associated feelings will alleviate some of the emotional troubles you are suffering from. Lastly, you may find meditation or mindfulness work to be of great benefit. Having the ability to live in the present moment should reduce the effects of your traumatic experiences interfering with recalling your past or looking forward to your future. I wish you all the best!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Laura Salinas
Laura Salinas
Certified Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist

In general, our past is always somewhat alive and does inform our present experiences.  All past experiences, both positive and negative are what have brought you where you are today, physically and emotionally.   

That being said, your father's behavior does not have to define you or your future.  You have power over your life and your future.  By learning more about yourself, you can learn to incorporate your past into your present life, without being defined by past traumas.  

The best way to grow and learn how to do this is to talk with someone about your experiences.  By talking about your past and present struggles with a trusted confidante or helping professional you will hopefully learn how to be at peace with your past.  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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