Your first relationship will not be like your second.
Your new job will not be like your old.
This summer will not be like last one.
Your new home will not be like your old.
Don’t project old experiences, memories and feelings into new situations.
I usually write because I overcame a struggle, analysed it and how I felt about it and therefore believe I can provide you with help on how to overcome a similar one yourself.
This time I don’t even know how to put the struggle itself into words. I just notice a thought process happening over and over again and I’m sure you’re familiar with it.
The thought process can regard anything from new relationships, to new jobs, to new homes. It regards everything that is in the present and what you imagine the future to be. It’s about projecting whatever you’ve experienced in the past into a similar new situation.
We think we know how things might turn out, but in fact we never could.
I used to think everything would change if I just moved to another country. I imagined everything to immediately be better. It wasn’t. I projected my old home and social environment into my new one (but better).
When I moved back home I thought I will be just as unhappy as I was before I moved away. I wasn’t. Cause I gave my comeback a chance.
When I meet new people or join new groups I still fear being rejected and kicked to the periphery of social interaction due to years of being bullied when I was younger. I project an old, painful feeling into that new encounter.
When I was declined by my preferred university in Vienna I realized I will go back to Holland to study. I started projecting everything I had experienced last fall and winter into the upcoming one. I relived the worst situations in a matter of seconds, thinking they would happen this same exact way again.
History repeats itself? No, it freaking doesn’t.
Past experiences shape our character and reactions. Especially painful ones. They’re important. They show us our boundaries and places we don’t want to re-visit. But they shouldn’t solely shape how we go on about life.
When you were a kid and touched a hot stove, you learned it was painful so you (ideally) didn’t touch it again. When you went through a tough breakup or been majorly disappointed by someone you loved, it was painful. You might build up a wall around your true self or project your fears into new relationships, because you “learned” that pain will await you anyway.
In my case, my move last year was a painful experience. Knowing I’ll be moving again, to the same country, at the same time – I can’t help but thinking it will be painful. Because that’s what it was like last time and that’s the only experience I have.
In reality, situations don’t repeat themselves. And you’re partly responsible for that. The new guy or girl you start dating is a completely different human being than the one who dumped you. You only have to decide to give that person a chance without your fear of pain interfering. If you walk into your new job thinking it will be as shitty as your old one, you will not find much joy in it or stay there for very long. If I move to the Netherlands, it will no way be like last time. It will be at a different university, studying a different subject, being in a different city! If I decide to walk into that situation full of fear of reliving my last experience, I don’t even give the new one a chance.
So beside this being a little pep talk for myself for the moments I notice this damn thought process starting again – I want to encourage you (and me) to give any new situation a chance. You have to trust that no situation will be like an old one.
Give the new guy a chance, the new girl, the new friend, the new summer, the new home, the new job, the new flat, the new teacher, the new anything.
Or else you’ll be responsible for your own downward spiral.