Pigeons, salmon, bees and cats all have an incredible ability to find their way home again with incredible precision. All animals have homing instincts. We tend to forget, that we humans are animals as well and we also have homing instincts, however “You can’t go home again.” Writes Dr. Minirth in Love is a Choice, The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships, “The homing instinct in humans is not geographic. It operates totally within the distant vistas of our minds. Rather than seek out physically the place of our birth and childhood, we seek to reconstruct it in our present lives… We bring home to us. We all possess a primal need to re-create the familiar, the original family situation, even if the familiar is destructive and painful.”
Most of us, know this theory when it comes to relationships. We all know someone who married a guy that was just like her father or someone who is dating a woman just like his mother. I am sure you have sought out the familiar in your own life to some extent. Whether your family was healthy or dysfunctional, familiar feels good because it is what we know.
We do this in our careers as well. We seek out a dynamic in our workplaces that feels familiar. Somewhere, we can act out our past. Where we can finally get closure, make it right or somehow overcome it. But, your office isn’t your old family room. Your new boss isn’t your mother. Your life now, is not your old life. No matter how eerily similar the situation might feel it is NOT the same situation.
The hardest and most confounding realization is that, just because you are convinced that your boss doesn’t listen to you doesn’t mean she doesn’t listen. Perhaps she does listen but you have been so conditioned to believe that women don’t listen, you are convinced she doesn’t. Just because it feels exactly the same way doesn’t mean that it is! Perhaps all those grievances and injustices aren’t really happening?
Perhaps it is all leftover from your past?
Your past is a blueprint. Some of us are lucky and have a solid blueprint but most of us have a blueprint that has been skewed by difficult and even tragic experiences. Leaving us to skew the present, to feel like our past. Dr. Minirth goes on to explain, “20 percent of our decisions come from the conscious reasoning mind. The rest come from deep within.” Those depths can be so skewed that no matter our reality we still see our past. This is how we are able to feel at home again for better or worse, because we convince ourselves that whatever is happening is just like the past.
Perception is reality and your perception is highly dependent upon what you have experienced and you will re-create it over and over again with everyone in your life. For some, that had happy childhoods repeating content fulfillment is a pleasant and wonderful way to go through life. For others, who re-create drama and tragedy it is a heart wrenching cycle full of suffering and pain.
If you are repeating the same mistakes, if you feel like your boss is just like your mother or your co-workers are just like your mean friends from high school perhaps there is something in your past that you need to heal. If you react irrationally to simple requests, you are not reacting to the present. You are replaying old wounds. If you can’t see past your feelings, you are trapped in old pain. It feels familiar albeit terrible.
Perhaps your past is getting in the way of your future?
We don’t repeat our past because we deserve to be punished. It isn’t karmic justice or some evil hereditary gene that is preventing you from being who you want to be, it is a homing instinct. A combination of conditioned behavior and old unfelt emotions. The good news is behavior can be changed, by developing self-awreness and changing your thoughts that accompany the behavior, and old unfelt pain will no longer subconsciously control you once you heal it.
So, yes you can go home again but you can choose what home that is. Will it be the home of your past or the home of your future?
-Shift into Balance Life & Career Coach for Professionals-