When you are a child, you don’t learn how to walk without falling down. No one keeps bringing it up or holds it against you. It’s no secret that we all make mistakes and, maybe we want to forget them or we have learned from and grown from it.
Unfortunately, it’s not the same with the mistakes you make as an adult and no matter how different we feel inside and out, someone may choose to keep reminding us of the things we did when we were possibly selfishly unaware or simply not as educated, emotionally and physically.
Nothing pops the air in your balloon like someone forcing you to defend your past choices when you feel like you have successfully made better choices.
It makes you feel like you can’t escape the former you and all your hard work has been in vain.
Why Do People Do This?
It really depends on your relationship with the person.
If it someone you trust and who you share a fairly good relationship with, they may have a misguided belief that reminding you of your past mistakes is making you a better person. Or, they may not be able to accept that you are changing, so they continue to remind you of your past.
You also have to remember that people don’t see everything you are doing so they go on the information they have which may be an older version of yourself. And, people often judge you in the areas they want to fix themselves. When they are bringing up your past mistakes, they are often talking to themselves about the areas of their lives they think they need to improve but haven’t made progress.
If they are not someone you trust, their motives could be to embarrass or control you. Someone who doesn’t want to see you become a better person will keep reminding you of your mistakes so they can keep you feeling shame which will undermine your progress.
How Do You Stop Them from Bringing Up Your Past?
The short answer is: You Don’t.
You can’t stop people from bringing up your past mistakes. You can’t stop them from seeing you the way you used to be. You can’t stop them from putting more emphasis on your mistakes over your triumphs. They have to come to that conclusion in their own time or, possibly, never at all.
However, what is in your control is how you feel about your mistakes.
Do you judge yourself harshly for your past mistakes? Do you still feel bad about them or beat yourself up for them? Have your forgiven yourself? Do you accept them as the way you learned and a necessary part of your past?
If you can accept your past, even with the mistakes, as apart of who you are and not use them to torture yourself, then nobody can torture you with them.
It takes the power out of someone bringing it up. Without shame, they can’t control you or make you feel something that you don’t want to feel.
Does that mean it won’t be frustrating? No, it will still be frustrating that the person chooses to see the worst in you instead of the best of you. But, your detachment from it makes it their problem and not yours.
And, you will ask yourself why are you trying to defend yourself against someone committed to a version of yourself that doesn’t exist anymore instead of acknowledging the improved version of you.
What to Ask Yourself When Someone Keeps Bringing Up Your Past
Is this person someone I need to maintain a relationship with?
If it’s not, then move on and let that person live in the past since they love it so much.
Perhaps, it is a co-worker and you worked on a project together in the past where you missed a deadline and left them scrambling to cover. They won’t let you forget that you didn’t come through like you promised.
I think, sometimes in business, we forget the human component and that people bring their own emotional hangups to work with them. Perhaps that person has trust issues and you triggered them, now they forever feel like they can’t trust your word because that is how they operate in their personal life.
Acknowledge their feelings. The conversation may require you to apologize for making them feel like you could be depended on and then leaving them to finish the project. Let them know you respect their time and appreciate their assistance. Offer to assist with another project if they find themselves in an emergency. And, together figure out a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again so they can feel secure working with in the future.
It could be a romantic partner, family member or friend who continually uses your past mistakes against you even though you have made efforts to rebuild trust.
Acknowledge their feelings but also acknowledge and express your own. It is easy to get angry, shut down or just decide there is no point in trying. However, if you want to work on the relationship, you are going to have to tell them how it feels to keep being slapped in the face with your mistakes and for them to not acknowledge that you are making efforts to not be that person anymore.
If they continue to choose not to see your growth, then you have to decide if that is a relationship that is healthy for you, mentally and emotionally.
Instead of letting someone bringing up your past make you feel bad, let it empower you into deeper acceptance of yourself; help you build stronger boundaries around who you give access to your vulnerable self and allow it to teach you who should remain in your life and who you may have outgrown.
Let it serve you instead of control you.
What’s Next at The Good Men Project? Talk with others. Improve your relationships. Join our Love, Sex, Etc. Social Interest Group
RSVP for Love Sex Etc. Calls
Join the Sex, Love Etc. FACEBOOK GROUP here.
We think you’ll like our SOCIAL INTEREST GROUPS—WEEKLY PHONE CALLS to discuss, gain insights, build communities— and help solve some of the most difficult challenges the world has today. Calls are for Members Only (although you can join the first call for free). Not yet a member of The Good Men Project? Join now!
Join The Good Men Project Community
All levels get to view The Good Men Project site AD-FREE. The $50 Platinum Level is an ALL-ACCESS PASS—join as many groups and classes as you want for the entire year. The $25 Gold Level gives you access to any ONE Social Interest Group and ONE Class–and other benefits listed below the form. Or…for $12, join as a Bronze Member and support our mission, and have a great ad-free viewing experience.
Register New Account
Please note: If you are already a writer/contributor at The Good Men Project, log in here before registering. (Request new password if needed).
ANNUAL PLATINUM membership ($50 per year) includes:
1. AN ALL ACCESS PASS — Join ANY and ALL of our weekly calls, Social Interest Groups, classes, workshops and private Facebook groups. We have at least one group phone call or online class every day of the week.
2. See the website with no ads when logged in!
3. MEMBER commenting badge.
ANNUAL GOLD membership ($25 per year) includes all the benefits above — but only ONE Weekly Social Interest Group and ONE class.
ANNUAL BRONZE membership ($12 per year) is great if you are not ready to join the full conversation but want to support our mission anyway. You’ll still get a BRONZE commenting badge, and you can pop into any of our weekly Friday Calls with the Publisher when you have time (Friday calls only). This is for people who believe—like we do—that this conversation about men and changing roles and goodness in the 21st century is one of the most important conversations you can have today.
Need more information? Click here.
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about the changing roles of men in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Men
Photo courtesy: Laura Fuhrman, Unsplash
Great article! Thanks!
Thank you for reading.