Whenever I read, see or hear something interesting the first thing I want to do is share it on my blog. It’s almost an automaticity. So today’s post is no exception. I read a book by a psychologist a while ago who practices past reality integration (PRI) and I was intrigued (to say the least). After reading the book I felt like I had suddenly discovered a whole new layer to my being. Here’s what PRI is and how it’s helped me.
Simply put, PRI discusses the fact that we, as adults, often react to present-day situations with a certain defense mechanism, which we have developed when we were children. Most of us have had some painful experiences when we were young and this can be anything. From an overbearing mother, to an abusive father or any form of neglect (the list goes on). If it’s caused you pain or harm, you may still carry that pain with you. This means that when you encounter a situation in your adult life that reminds you of that old pain, you react the way you did back then: by using a defense mechanism.
The problem is that you are no longer a child and you don’t need those defense mechanisms anymore. Those mechanisms were used by you as a child, because you were too young to deal with the reality of the situation. You weren’t able to feel the pain that was inflicted upon you (whatever it was) so you dealt with it by using one or more defense mechanisms. However, if you’re still using them as an adult that means your perception of your current reality is distorted.
This basically means that your feelings or reactions to certain situations in your present may be a result of painful situations in your past and this was SO interesting to me. I immediately thought of situations in my life where I often feel sad, or angry, or weirdly uncomfortable without really knowing why. I can also get upset or angry in a way that does not reflect the situation I’m in. But I feel the emotions anyway and reading about PRI has allowed me to understand why.
My defense mechanisms
What I discovered about myself is that I have, to a certain extent, a fear of abandonment (my father died suddenly when I was young) and the defense mechanisms I often use are false hope and false power (if you want, you can take a test here to see which mechanisms you use most often). False hope means you do everything as an adult to get what you were lacking as a child. People who use this defense mechanisms are often perfectionists and control freaks. False power means you blame your parents for whatever problems you have. This means that, as an adult, you tend to blame others, and you are often irritated, angry and stressed.
How PRI can help you
PRI helps you to understand that you are needlessly using defense mechanisms that you developed as a child, but no longer need as an adult. As a child you were small and dependent on others with no awareness of time. As adults, we don’t need to defend ourselves anymore. The past is gone and we are now able to fulfill our own needs. Realizing this has been eye-opening to me. I now know that I frequently use defense mechanisms in situations that bring up some form of old pain. Recognizing that has been a huge relief for me.
If you want to know about PRI you can visit this site for more information. Even if you feel your childhood was perfect, there may be something beneath the surface that you’re dealing with but unaware of. The same was true for me. Of course there are always people who’ve had worse childhoods than you, but that doesn’t make your pain any less real.