1. Home
  2. Past, personality and future.

Past, personality and future.

How our per­son­al­i­ty for­ma­tion through our past influ­ences our future problems.

Our past deter­mines every sin­gle one of our deci­sions, our behav­iour and shapes our per­son­al­i­ty — both con­scious­ly and uncon­scious­ly. Prob­lems that one has in adult­hood usu­al­ly have their ori­gin in child­hood or in past (trau­mat­ic) expe­ri­ences. It is impor­tant to under­stand how and why this is so in order to pre­vent them from turn­ing into acute or big­ger problems.


Many assume that prob­lems, sit­u­a­tions or mis­un­der­stand­ings arise in the moment. An action pro­duces a reac­tion. But is it that simple?


Our behav­iour is not divid­ed into black and white gra­da­tions, as is often believed. It takes a lot of knowl­edge to under­stand it. Every kind of action has a rea­son and is deeply anchored in the mem­o­ries and life events we have learned, expe­ri­enced and witnessed.

From an ear­ly age, chil­dren are influ­enced by many impres­sions. Up to a cer­tain age, these are lim­it­ed pure­ly to the emo­tion­al lev­el, because a young child does not yet have the abil­i­ty to see and under­stand cir­cum­stances, sit­u­a­tions, views and oth­er sit­u­a­tions. The only thing it does is: feel. Hap­pi­ness, joy, secu­ri­ty, well-being and oth­er pos­i­tive emo­tions — or just the oppo­site: fear, sad­ness, inse­cu­ri­ty or unhap­pi­ness. These feel­ings form the basis for our mem­o­ries and expe­ri­ences. In this way, we learn to draw con­clu­sions and make deci­sions in con­nec­tion with our emo­tions. We thus devel­op behav­iours, cop­ing mech­a­nisms (also called cop­ing strate­gies) and per­son­al­i­ty traits.

What is impor­tant here are the cop­ing strate­gies. We deal with cer­tain events dif­fer­ent­ly depend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion and the per­son. But the con­se­quences, or the results of this cop­ing are impor­tant, because these also deter­mine future actions in rela­tion to events or oth­er people.


But what does this have to do with prob­lems or mis­un­der­stand­ings in adulthood?

Every­thing we say, how we say it or express it and when we say it has a rea­son, an ori­gin and an inten­tion with­in it. So how do we ensure that con­flicts do not arise?

There is nev­er one hun­dred per­cent cer­tain­ty, but by stay­ing self-reflec­tive, you can pre­vent a large part of it.


For exam­ple:

When per­son A expe­ri­ences some­thing with per­son B, the lat­ter is influ­enced by his own expe­ri­ences to assess a cer­tain sit­u­a­tion dif­fer­ent­ly. Thus, the mem­o­ry may vary from per­son A to per­son B. Like­wise, the nar­ra­tion will vary because per­son A does not use the exact same vocab­u­lary as per­son B. This cir­cum­stance will then be reflect­ed in anoth­er per­son­’s nar­ra­tion. This cir­cum­stance will then leave anoth­er per­son C, to whom the sit­u­a­tion is described, with a dif­fer­ent impres­sion of the sit­u­a­tion, which dif­fers from the actu­al events.

What is impor­tant to under­stand here is that each indi­vid­ual per­son not only has a sub­jec­tive per­cep­tion and real­i­ty, but (unfor­tu­nate­ly) also does not always have enough insight into the cir­cum­stances of the oth­er per­son. The more often this orig­i­nal infor­ma­tion is passed on, the more often sub­jec­tive real­i­ties and expe­ri­ences can increas­ing­ly be includ­ed in an inter­pre­ta­tive way.


You can­not know or know every­thing about anoth­er per­son. What they have been through, how they were brought up, in which lan­guage or which cul­ture they grew up. Depend­ing on what a per­son has expe­ri­enced and how (also in the emo­tion­al sense) and how they coped with these cir­cum­stances, this infor­ma­tion is by no means always avail­able to out­siders. It is up to the per­son them­selves to decide whether they want to share this information.

This is one thing we can­not influ­ence. But a per­son­’s behav­iour that is dis­tant from the norms[1] is always an indi­ca­tor that the per­son has gone through a trau­mat­ic experience.

Mis­un­der­stand­ings can always arise. The mis­un­der­stand­ing that becomes a prob­lem can be a way to solve it.


How do we solve prob­lems and how do we cre­ate the will­ing­ness to clar­i­fy them?

It is impor­tant to keep every­thing in per­spec­tive and remain self-reflec­tive, under­stand­ing that when you say and hear some­thing, there is much more behind it than just the words them­selves. You should always remem­ber that behind every action and every state­ment there are always rea­sons that go much deep­er than you first see or think you know.

Solv­ing prob­lems does not only mean an effort for the oth­er per­son, but also for one­self. This means: the will­ing­ness must of course be there and one must pur­sue a goal with it. Which goal that is is of course up to each per­son. Per­haps the gen­er­al goal could be to pro­mote peace­ful coex­is­tence or to pre­vent recur­ring problems.

Reflec­tion means being able to be hon­est with one­self and to put one’s own expe­ri­ences in rela­tion to sit­u­a­tions. The effort here lies in lis­ten­ing to one­self and iden­ti­fy­ing and dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing as well as pos­si­ble which emo­tions belong to one’s own per­son­al­i­ty and which do not, and when the emo­tion and moti­va­tion of the oth­er per­son needs to be heard and under­stood. You don’t have to empathise with them, but you should at least under­stand or accept them. One does not nec­es­sar­i­ly have to be empa­thet­ic, but to approach the oth­er per­son, his or her expe­ri­ences and expe­ri­ences with respect. It is not about being right, because every­one thinks their own view is the cor­rect one at first. Con­flicts are about find­ing a solu­tion and being able to think con­struc­tive­ly for­ward so that both par­ties feel under­stood, seen and respected.

When a strong reac­tion comes from the oth­er per­son, it often express­es a form of despair and there is some­thing behind it that you don’t see. Even the per­son con­cerned is rarely aware of this. Despair or fear often leads to inse­cu­ri­ty. A feel­ing that many peo­ple can­not bear. Inse­cu­ri­ties lead to a need for cer­tain­ty and a desire for answers. Peo­ple look for expla­na­tions that make sense sub­jec­tive­ly (i.e. in rela­tion to every­thing they have learned or expe­ri­enced). But this does not mean that they cor­re­spond to objec­tive or normal[2] reality.


Let’s take an exam­ple that has become increas­ing­ly influ­en­tial in recent decades: the internet.

Almost every­one has access to the inter­net. One can get any infor­ma­tion one can think of via the inter­net. This infor­ma­tion is uploaded by oth­er peo­ple. What does that mean? That every piece of infor­ma­tion is a sub­jec­tive view on a sub­ject. This means that it is shaped by expe­ri­ences and adventures.

Since this infor­ma­tion is avail­able to any­one at any time, each per­son can of course “cher­ry-pick” the infor­ma­tion that plays into their hands and sup­ports their own point of view.

Free­dom of speech or free­dom of the press does not mean that every­thing that is said is right, it just means that every per­son has a right to their own opin­ion and that every­one should respect that opin­ion. It does not mean that one must nec­es­sar­i­ly share that opin­ion or impose it on others.

It is impor­tant to under­stand that any infor­ma­tion shared with or by a per­son (this is applic­a­ble at all lev­els) does not nec­es­sar­i­ly cor­re­spond to the real­i­ty of others.

One should learn from an ear­ly age to recog­nise these dif­fer­ences in order to be able to bet­ter assess sit­u­a­tions and there­by cre­ate a greater under­stand­ing of our coun­ter­parts and their indi­vid­ual situations.

It can­not be empha­sised often enough: One does not have to agree, but one should always be able to respect oth­er opin­ions (and this applies in both directions).

Reflect­ing on your own behav­iour and under­stand­ing your own moti­va­tions and emo­tions also helps to make a greater under­stand­ing of the oth­er per­son­’s behav­iour possible.


So don’t take every­thing so much to heart and always try to think about who is mak­ing a state­ment and what sit­u­a­tion that per­son is in. Does she have some­thing to gain? Some­thing to lose? Under what cir­cum­stances was the state­ment made? How is the per­son doing and what is he or she going through at the moment? Could there be more to it than that? What infor­ma­tion can­not be denied and could be con­sid­ered fact? When is infor­ma­tion fact and when is it not?


Our goal should be to cre­ate a greater under­stand­ing of this issue and also to teach this to our chil­dren from the begin­ning so that they grow up in a bet­ter envi­ron­ment, treat each oth­er dif­fer­ent­ly and do not repeat our mistakes.

Nobody is per­fect. Every­one makes mis­takes, that’s part of life and that’s the only way to devel­op. You should be open to it and learn to deal with con­flicts in the right way.

We have to help our chil­dren learn under­stand­ing and respect, how a per­son works and how to com­mu­ni­cate prop­er­ly in con­flict sit­u­a­tions. All this is only pos­si­ble if one is emo­tion­al­ly open, reflec­tive and tol­er­ant. These are things that should be learned from the begin­ning and preventively.

Because pre­ven­tion is not only impor­tant and self-serv­ing. Pre­ven­tion is the way to a more peace­ful and hap­pi­er life.


You too can make a dif­fer­ence! Because change always starts with your­self first!




[1] Norms means every­thing that is regard­ed and accept­ed by a major­i­ty as a bind­ing rule of what is right, cor­rect, etc. for peo­ple to live together.

[2] Real­i­ty cor­re­spond­ing to the norm.

like & share 0 Likes