How Our Past Influences Our Present

For much of the time, the way we feel about
– and react to – events is founded on how things are in the here and now. For example: – I feel very scared because something very
scary is in front of me. – I feel I’m being judged harshly by the
person I’m speaking to – and I am. – I withhold my trust because someone I’m
with truly is untrustworthy However, one of the momentous discoveries
of 20th century psychology has been that in certain cases, this isn’t what happens at
all. At points, our behaviour is driven not by what is happening in front of us, but by
extremely formative experiences we’ve had in childhood, which colour and influence how
we behave and think decades later – unless and until we become aware of our tendencies,
as the technical term has it, to ‘project’ responses from the past onto the present,
where they don’t entirely belong. So: – We feel very scared – even though there
is nothing around us to be terrified of. – We feel harshly judged by someone – who
in fact means very well. – We avoid intimacy with a person – who actually
deeply merits our trust The reason we behave like is that we are generalising
on the basis of certain significant events from childhood which have completely altered
our assumptions about the world and other people. – In early childhood, we experienced the terrifying
volcanic temper of a violent parent. Now we see the threat of violence everywhere. – We were humiliated by our mother for the
first decade of life. Now a lot of people seem out to humiliate us. – A father whom we loved and trusted left
the family and broke off contact suddenly. Now most relationships feel like they’re
about to end in disaster. When we’re involved in a projection, we
believe ourselves to be utterly justified in responding as we do, and might take deep
offence if someone accused us of ‘projecting’ on the basis of forgotten past events. Because of this innate denial and ignorance
of our projections, psychologists have developed special tests, known as projection tests,
to tease out our underlying assumptions, show us what is on our minds and enable us to see
reality more clearly. The most well-known of such tecsts was devised
in the 1930s by the Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach, who created a group of ambiguous
images, then asked his patients to reflect without inhibition on what they felt these
looked like, evoked and made them think of. Crucially, these images have no predetermined
meaning; they aren’t about anything in particular. They are suggestive in a huge variety of directions
– and so different people will see different traits and atmospheres in them according to
what their past most readily predisposes them to imagine. To one individual who has inherited from their
parents a rather kindly and forgiving conscience, an image could be seen as a sweet mask, with
eyes, floppy ears, a covering for the mouth and wide flaps extending from the cheeks.
Another, more traumatised by a domineering father, might see it as a powerful figure
viewed from below, with splayed feet, thick legs, heavy shoulders and the head bent forward
as if poised for attack. With similar intent, the psychologists Henry
Murray and Christiana Morgan created a set of drawings showing people whose moods and
actions were deliberately indeterminate. In one example, two men are positioned close
to one another with their faces able to bear a host of interpretations. ‘It’s perhaps a father and son, mourning
together for a shared loss’, one respondent who had inherited a close relationship with
his father might say. Or another, bearing the burden of a punitive past, might assert:
‘It’s a manager in the process of sacking a young employee who has failed at an important
task’. Or a third, wrestling with a legacy of censured homosexuality, might venture:
‘I feel something obscene is going on out of the frame: it’s in a public urinal, the
older man is looking at the younger guy’s penis and making him feel very embarrassed
but perhaps also somehow turned on….’ One thing we do really know about these ambiguous
images is that they are not precise, the elaboration is coming from the person who looks at them,
and the way they elaborate, the kind of story they tell, is saying far more about their
emotional inheritance than it does about the images themselves. Following this pattern, in the 1950s, the
American psychologist Saul Rosenzweig designed tests to tease out our inherited ways of dealing
with humiliation and bad news. His Picture Frustration Study (1955) showed a range of
situations to which our psychological histories would give us very different templates of
responses. One kind of person, the bearer of a solid
emotional inheritance, will tend to be resilient when someone has behaved badly towards them
or is causing a problem unnecessarily. Another might be convinced that they they deserve
quite bad treatment from others, a legacy of a difficult childhood. A fourth projection exercise asks us to say
the very first thing that comes to mind when we try to finish particular sentences that
are fired at us. For example: Men in authority are generally… Young women are almost always… When I am promoted, what’s bound to happen
is… When someone is late, it must be because… When I hear someone described as ‘very intellectual’,
I imagine them being…[d] Being mature means accepting with good grace
that we might be involved in multiple projections and so may be bringing exaggerated dynamics
and excess energy to a lot of situations. We aren’t of course responsible for the
events in childhood from which our projections arose, but we do have a responsibility as
adults to try to understand the nature of our projections – and to warn others, and
ourselves, of how they might be skewing our behaviour
in the here and now. If you’re interested in coming to San Francisco to meet us at the end of March. Please click on the link on screen now to find out more. We hope to see you there.

Comments 100

  • What in your past do you think has influenced the person you are today? If you’d like to meet other like minded people in person, why not come to our next Conference in the USA on 23rd-25th March 2018

  • Oh boo hoo hoo, so what if you had a few sad days, do you want suck it up and move on or keep looking back and feel sorry for yourself. Too bad society nowadays encourage this type of behaviours instead of teaching people how to get on with life. Thanks school of life, more like how to be retreat to your safe place from the perceived cold harsh world. Wuss

  • I am always scared,confused and feeling weird because of childhood abuse by step father…

  • I really love her voice

  • Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. That's the only way to become who you're meant to be.

  • The voice is trying to hypnotise me, not inform or educate me.

  • The interesting thing is that it is so easy to see other people's projections, but it is almost impossible. to see our own. We are essentially blind to what is really going on with us.

  • I've carried my punitive and aggressive father with me everywhere. It's the worst when I take him into work; I'm always afraid my boss will yell at me.

  • So often your videos move me to tears with epiphanies and revelations about myself.

  • Thank you so much! Owe you!

  • 6:48 Immigrant song anyone😂😂

  • After watching Jiren’s backstory , this video came up…

    Coincidences are interesting .

  • As a psychology major tat is a fun test. The pictures are interesting and the interpretation after is just sparks a curiosity 😍

  • Thank you for this, I use this knowledge in my everyday thinking

  • It might also be interesting considering not just our childhood but our life in general. At the begging of the video, it claims that it's only in the latest pshycological research that we have come to understand that our reactions don't always come from the present stimulus. Aristotle talked about habits and virtues, and how our free choices influence how we perceive reality and therefore react. Our passions are influenced by our whole life choices, not just by childhood. It is well proved that childhood experiences influence a lot, but I would say that also the ones we suffer as teenagers, and as adults. We can always rebuild those reactions working, as Aristotle said, towards the formation of virtues which then help us to have better reactions!

  • "You sold me a crummy, watch. I want my money back."
    "You know what you could do with that watch? Stick it up your arse! Hahaha" XD

  • I miss Alain's voiceover…

  • "YOU Can't Start The NEXT Chapter of Your LIFE if You keep RE-READING the LAST ONE"

  • Your diction is awful :/

  • Even if we try to comprehend the nature of our past events, it seems unlikely that our diverted thought process would easily be oriented to a normal and unbiased perception.

  • History would definitely be a great instance for this video.

  • You seem to have confused projection with transference.

  • "You sold me a crummy watch, I want my money back."
    "You know what you can do with that watch, you can shove it up yer arse! HAHAHAHAHAH!" (extra credit points if you got this reference).

  • I'm going through this right all the stuff that happened between me being born to the age of 11 is haunting me now at 20
    When you are hurt and traumatized by things that happened to yourself or other people in the past
    You do anything in your power to eliminate all possibly of happening in the future even though it may seem irrational to others around you but only if they knew they would understand

  • This isn't asmr back the fuck up from the mic

  • If you don't know your past, you can't foresee your future. You will be doomed to repeat your history. It would seem to make sense to use what you've learned from bad experiences to hold as lessons learned in case you would ever have to deal with a specific unpleasant circumstance again. Therefore you will change certain behaviors and patterns to avoid a repeat of past bad situations.

  • What's the first word that comes to your mind following these sentences:
    "Men in authority are generally…." Hot
    "Young women are almost always…." Hot
    "When I am promoted, what's bound to happen is…." Hot
    "When someone is late, it must be because…." Hot


  • Protip: speed this video up to 1.25x to make it seem normal

  • I hadn't listened to the latest previous one before this yet to know there was a change, and let me just say, I found the new narration extremely jarring. And also quickly lost interest due entirely to the narration, not the topic choice. At first it sounds like robot voice and I was about to click away dumbfounded on how the videos ended up that way, and then can tell it's human; but so extremely difficult to sit through. In fact, honestly, even though normally I would have watched this video – I didn't even finish, it is just too much to actually sit through.. for 7 mins.. I probably didn't make it very far past 1.. I will probably stop coming to the channel for videos if she becomes main narrator. Which is sad because the channel is amazing.. most of the time.

  • I think these past influences are indelible.

  • Whats up of the voice

  • I'm stuck for a long time now

  • Another good reason why beating and whipping your children is perhaps not the best method of helping them to become responsible adults?

  • This is why the high school shootings that are so prevalent lately in the USA should be extra disturbing: THE ENTIRE SYSTEM IS BROKEN AND IS MANUFACTURING BROKEN ADULTS FILLED WITH HATRED.

  • These videos remind me of Little Big Planet

  • this video made me cry deep inside

  • This is the basic of Stoicism and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – the therapy peopela re using to remove anxiety. This is what my channel is all about.

  • Incrediblo

  • dreary narrator, sounds as if she were falling asleep. sorry to be so critical, let's blame it on my mother.

  • that example about the one guy looking at the other guys dick was rather specific in detail. you should've left some of that out of the script.

  • This voice makes it hard to pay attention. I get bored by it's monotony.


  • …. I hate my life. Everyday is full of coincidences, it feels like God is playing games on me. The day this video was posted I got interested in the character Rorschach from comics, now I see Rorschach images here. This pretty much happens everyday. It really feels like hell

  • Can she redact any slower!? That was too fast!

  • Psychology is filled with a ton of BS?
    The core of psychological thought based in religionists formation?

  • Bueatifully engaging and thoughtfully designed.

  • aaah, wrong narrator, sorry.

  • legendas em português por favor

  • please get someone who doesnt sound like they're just reading something after waking up and also starving

  • life is never a school while a school is in life itself where life begins and end and we got to choose what we will do between life and death…

  • bring back the old version please

  • I was well sure I knew about the fact that our past influences our present, but never dug deep enough to actually think of the small details mentioned in this videos, of what actually is the cause of my behaviour. Another great video!

  • 1. Michael Jordan once said that when he plays basketball he sees patterns. So he sees where every player stands in that moment and where the ball is and then he intuitively recognises a pattern he had seen before, then he senses where the ball will go and reacts accordingly and gets it! I thought this was so fascinating and may be we could have this in mind as a metaphor when we look back at our lives:

    So if we could recognise the " repetitive patterns" in our past, ( especially around relationships ) we could surely gain more power over our future. Let's say you had an abusive parent and therefore you always fall for the same kind of abusive partner, because, as sad as it sounds, he makes you feel " at home". Then, just by recognising this, you can be more "aware" next time, and keep away from that type.

    Psychologist William James said:

    "My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those things which I notice shape my mind".

    Looking at your past properly, gives you the clues about what you should attend to in the future. So the more " aware" you are of what had been done to you back then, the more you can free yourself from the curse of the past and take better, healthier decisions.

    What Kirkegaard said makes a lot of sense:

    "Life can only be understood backwards , but it must be lived forwards"

    2. And Eric Kandel says:

    " We are what we remember" .

    At this point, especially those of us who had a very troubled childhood, do need help.

    Because even if you remember every situation of abuse years later, you still don't know what to do with all that.

    Wittgenstein says:

    " All I know is what I have words for".

    But we don't always have the words to describe our sorrow and pain.

    Sometimes it takes the wisdom and compassion of another person, to make sense of your own story. He may be the one to find the right words to describe your suffering.
    This is such a wise proverb:

    " You can't read the label from inside the jar".

    That's why from all the psychotherapy books I have read, I am convinced that a good shrink can change the course of your life.

    If you have doubts about it I highly recommend you the books by Irvin Yalom and Gabriel Rolon. They simply tell you the stories of their patients and in which ways they could help them.It is always very touching to see how much one man can help another…

    3. There is an incredible, unforgettable " Radiolab" podcast about the ways we remember our lives. The episode is called " Memory and Forgetting".

    4. " On Being With Krista Tippett" podcast with the trauma expert Bessel Van Der Kolk as guest is also full of valuable insights. The episode is called " How Trauma Lodges in the Body".

    5. Meditation helps enormously. What we need the most on earth is clarity of mind and compassion. Because as they say:

    " We don't see the world as it is, but we see it as we are".

    So if you wish to start meditating I highly recommend you a lecture from Yale University which is on youtube. Just search for:

    " Yale, Human Emotions, Mindfulness II "

    The professor there recommends the following guided meditation podcast which you can find on Itunes for free:

    " UCLA Hammer Meditation".

    Thank you for this very valuable lesson!

  • My my, the tone of the comment section is heading south…

  • I didn't suffer from any childhood traumas, but I'm still fucked up.


  • PLEASE, keep up with that voice over that boring man. I don't like him.

  • What an amazing voice.

  • Perhaps in the picture of the two men, the fellow on the left is violating the personal space of the fellow on the right and asking him about his personal life or talking about his own, at length, perhaps this is because he is influenced by meth or alcohol. Perhaps he's asking the fellow on the right to babysit for his kids and doing so in a loud voice which is disturbing other library patrons.

  • Wow this really made me think about how much the past has influenced me…. I am very obsessed with the past and everything and everyone in it but the test near the end actually made me realise how… Dark everything is in my head… It feels as though i just about hate or get annoyed by everything but this video actually made me think of WHY that is rather than "That is just how it is"

  • Horseshit mostly. Yes we bear scars, but we learn to heal and get over stuff and move on. This whole way of thinking just appeals to our narcissism.

  • The cuts in the white noise between recordings was a bit distracting once or twice. I imagine the lip smacking is intentional, to give the ASMR style feeling. But the white noise should be consistent.

  • please fix the audio. Popfilters, eq-ing

  • Lovely video, but I must say I was so bored with this woman's voice! Please put some excitement in the text!
    I was very inclined to click away throughout the middle of this video…

  • Spanish please!!!

  • The depressing nature and tone of many of these are always so beautiful..

  • This channel is just awesome

  • The voice literally sounds like Emma Watson !

  • Being adopted..

  • Wonderful video (info and graphics)!

  • I really liked this one. Thank you!

  • I would have liked hearing some suggestions on what we could do after each example.

  • I'm getting really skeptical about what this new wave of psyche professionals is bringing us. It would seem to me that Alain would more objectively look at this stream of psychology. He seems to have adopted it as true. In a way, it seems too easy to blame present troubles on years of your life you can't even remember. That, in a sense, sounds like a perfect marketing trick as well. Sort of like the stories of those people who visited a psycologist in the late 70s and early 80s and were told that they were sexually abused in child hood by one of their parents, where nothing had actually occurred. I'm highly skeptical about this and I think we should all be. In fact, humans have thought for years that "alchemy" would bring us further in life, and in all the psyche professions, we're just making mistake, after mistake, after mistake. In that way, I'm sorry to say this, they're very similar. These topics are hugely exciting, most of them are, imagine if every psychological theory would to be true. That means break through, after break through, after break through! One even more exciting then the other one! Fact is most of them have been proven false, and therefore, most of them probably will be too. I like the idea of this. I'm afraid that that is more so the problem. Most of our anxieties and depressing conclusions in life are still, when put in perspective, Luxury problems.
    Thanks for reading,

  • FYI: The microscope was backwards in that picture of the woman in front of the microscope. The part holding the eyepiece goes away from the person looking into the microscope. Don't worry, we all had to learn that in our beginning biology classes.

  • This 'past affects your present' shtick is so bogus. Yes you may have had a bad childhood, most of us have, but the kicker is it gets worse, it never ends 'One damn thing after another' and it's how you handle it that counts? I used to believe that.

  • 2018 and we are still using White Jesus? Like the thoughts, the visuals need work.

  • This is amazing and life changing.

  • #thatawkwardmoment when you realise you’ve got some effed up issues xD

  • Our perception is not always reality….and sometimes…it is. Everything is subjective to personal experience and trying to understand another is paramount.

  • I think i have found one. I am anxious around approaching a girl for a date or just to be romantically involved with because when I was younger and that one broke up with me made me feel betrayed. I get my anxious feeling when trying to get out from not wanting to feel betrayed again so I am very cautious and nervous.

  • What a load of bollocks.

  • all those images were very scary to me.

  • when I was a child sometime I was yield by teachers, neighbors or close family members for little reasons and my sister was disagreeable until she left our home, so now I have a shit karma I feel attacked whenever my parents star reproaching me something

  • Our future is In the NOW!

  • rough childhood makes you very doubtfull about everything

  • Regardless of your past believe in better

  • It's good but not always accurate I think. But it may help.

  • I think consult with a psychologist will bring some change if anyone has some sort of unusual issues with their past.

  • In high school, I moved to a new place with better education. A lot of our curriculum was based off of the socratic method and I would have no idea how to respond and often humiliate myself among my peers. I got laughed at a lot and felt stupid and misunderstood. I developed a generalized anxiety bc of this and it still affects me sometimes when it comes to talking to new people in a group setting.

  • Miss the voice of Alan

  • The person who wrote this had defiantly had a bad childhood. Constantly putting down parents. not good. Stop putting your own life experiences onto other people thinking they have also had bad upbringing. I don't think your advice is good at all, even though the way it's put out is brilliant which is the scary thing as it makes it more so believable.
    In my opinion you are just picking any life subject and giving of the same crapy advice which is from your point of view and like I said not everyone had a mother or a father putting us down from day one.
    You need to stop doing this ad I know this I your cash cow and I can see by how many views you have how much money you are making., but these are people's lives you are messing with.
    Kind regards

  • I prefer u use the male voice to be focused on relationships and psychotherapy. Sometimes, the voices that narrate here just disorient me (and others) from watching your videos

  • What I don't understand is why so many people seem to reject this idea in relationship (not just denial but outright rejection that their current behavior could be influenced by the past–my ex seemed to believe he rose up out of the mud) and seem unable to or refuse to take responsibility for these projections. Partners who get this, who try to own their own baggage, and who have the past of their partners projected onto them are made out to be demented for seeing what the other can't see. Even if you avoid words like projection or anything you think might make a partner feel defensive, they can refuse any responsibility for their actions and also engage in the blame game. I know examining the past can be scary, but the path to your heart gets easier the more you make your way there. That said, if someone wants to live with the delusion that they're current behavior toward their partner and others is not influenced by their childhood and find a partner who will engage in the delusion with them, that's fine by me. I simply want to ensure I don't ever end up in a relationship again where my partner sees our interactions as win lose and score keeps.

  • Jews appearing innocent like Saul Rosenzweig infiltrated Hitler's 3rd Reich to perpetrate horrid experiments on other Jews to discredit Hitler. Grossly infiltrating every field of scientific discovery they are today the makers of fake space research, NASA, Mengeles military Mk-Ultra, Hollywood, big Pharma, the liberal democratic movement and communism here and abroad. They are controllers for elite Masters who create the world we know.

  • Don"t limit our impacting experiences to childhood; the 20's and beyond can be very inpactful, especially with a protected childhood.

  • Old guys staring at my junk always gets me going.

  • I feel stagnant because of my childhood. I've never had a healthy relationship due to being molested at 13, lack ambition because I had no guidance, filled with self doubt because of having no support or encouragement for what talents I possessed. I always feel judged. When I die, I will have contributed nothing to the world.

  • Poor narrator is getting bashed here. I thought you did a fine job. People often don't feel built up until they're tearing someone down. Childhood issues? Listen to the kind, constructive criticism, fk the rest.

  • Our past is our present since we only live a mere 70 years of age. This is why we should try to ALWAYS do good

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