Originally Posted by Soul Reaver
I feel my intentions are good. Basically I feel I let some people step on me in the past and that whole part of my life is leaving me feel I no longer respect the person I've been in some situations.
Keep reminding yourself of this: the past is gone. The only thing that truly matters is how you choose to think and act now.
I had my own stuff in the past that I wasn't happy about--and I didn't like who I had been at the time. I was angry at the people who had mistreated me, but I was even angrier at myself for being weak and allowing that to happen.
So for a long time, I had to keep reminding myself, "That was then, this is now," and focus on being the person I wanted to be, rather than keeping alive the person I had been before.
"That was then, this is now." Who do you want to be? Be that person.
Who you were before is like a ghost that doesn't know it's dead, still haunting your present self--so send it into the light. You could do that as a visualization, or write a letter to your past self. Whatever works for you.
I think that if you can do that, you might find a lot of the shame, guilt, anger, resentment, and other negative emotions will lose their power. In my case, the memories that used to get me all riled up just don't have that power any more. I remember what happened, but they feel like someone else's memories--which they are. Those offenses in the past were committed against someone else, and thus have nothing to do with me, the person I am right now.
The problem is I've been treating these individuals like I let everything slide (which I kinda did because I'm too forgiving) and that they can basically consider myself my friends.
Here's a couple of questions to consider: Are you angrier at them
for mistreating you and not thinking it's a big deal? Or are you angrier at yourself for "letting it slide," and being "too forgiving," so they think it's no big deal?
Is it possible that the confrontation you really need to have is with yourself,
to address how you feel about letting other people get away with disrespecting you, and why you allow that to happen?
But lately I've been feeling like I really need to let go of the person I was in a lot of areas in my life. And I want to confront the past. It's a matter of honor. The more conscious new me does not want people to get the wrong impression and wants to establish the boundaries.
In my own experience, deciding how you want to be treated right now,
and thinking and acting in a way that is congruent with that, is far more helpful than dragging the past into the present.
In fact, I believe that "letting go of who you were," while at the same time "confronting the past" accomplishes neither. By confronting the past, you stay there--you can't let it go that way. And I see this a lot in people who have spent years in therapy, or reading self-help books, endlessly analyzing and revisiting their pasts; they stay stuck in it. And for a long time, I got stuck in it, too. The way to un-stick yourself is to let go and move forward, focusing on the present.
Problem is, these people are not very much in my life that much these days...
Actually, this is a good thing!
If you start building your new self, the person you want to be, you might find that these people will disappear from your life. They won't die or anything; you just won't encounter them any more. Or, if they do stick around, the relationships will change for the better.
However, you might also find yourself dealing with them more often for a while, especially at first. It's like a test: "Oh, you want to be treated with respect, now? You really mean it, huh? Well, let's see how you do!" and *BAM!* there's your nemesis, right in front of you! And when that happens, your task is to stay focused on the better self you intend to be right now, not the past self you have always been around this other person.
My father likes to provoke people, throwing them off-balance so he can appear superior. Then, when they get upset or angry, he dismisses them as being too sensitive, or unable to take a joke. Needless to say, I spent most of my life angry and heartbroken that he'd treat me that way. And he still tries to do it, whenever I see him.
But these days I no longer give him the power to hurt me. I just think, "Oh, there he is, trying to throw me off-center again," and completely ignore whatever he said. Or I say, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear that. Would you care to repeat it?" But the funny thing is, he never wants to repeat whatever ugly remark he's just made, and gets flustered. He wants to stir up my emotions, but when that doesn't happen, he retreats and finds someone else to pick on.
I give him no significance, in other words. To argue with him, confront him, fight back, or otherwise defend myself (making it a "matter of honor," as you put it) gives him significance. It says, "What he says matters, and has the power to affect me, so I must defend myself." But when I give it no significance, his jabs are just like the halfhearted barking of an old dog. If I ignore the barking, the dog will go back to sleep and leave me alone.
...and it would feel weird to confront them on purpose. It would make me feel that by confronting them I'm giving them more reason to believe I'm someone they can disrespect...since I'm obviously "traumatized" by it.
I think you're on the right track with this thinking.