The Keys To a Healthy Relationship: Key No. 4 – The Impact Of The Past

The Keys To a Healthy Relationship: Key No. 4 – The Impact Of The Past

by Dr Emma Gray - 19th November, 2018

impact of the past

This is the 4th blog in this relationship series, The Keys to a Healthy Relationship. Here I will explain how our past relationships can have a negative impact on our current ones.

People struggle to remain completely present in the current moment. This is because our ancestors were physically safer if they frequently reviewed past experiences to make predictions about future risks. As evolution is a slow process, we retain this tendency despite the fact that the risks modern people face are very different. This means that our current relationships and interactions are heavily influenced by our past relationships and interactions, especially those early ones with our parents.

This means that, particularly when interactions are intense, the door to similar interactions from the past is opened and these memories flood whatever is happening now, influencing how we think, feel and respond. Just knowing this enables us to step back a little, giving us the opportunity to do something different.

Another little trick to ensure your past relationships aren’t having a negative impact on your current ones is to use your emotional temperature as a warning flag. When it starts to rise, work out what past interactions you are being reminded of and how these are affecting what is happening right now. For example, are you hearing criticising where there is none? Are you anticipating a rejection when a rejection is unlikely? Are you interpreting your partner’s behaviour as a sign that they do not care when maybe it is a sign of something else entirely?

To begin with it may only be possible to make this kind of assessment after the event, but the more you practice this technique the easier it will become and then you can use it as a way of stopping heated discussions turning into full blown arguments.

In the next blog I will share Key 5:  How to stop an argument.


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleagues once described me as a natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.

Read more about my approach to counselling here...

View all my other articles here...

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