Is your present invaded by your past?
Overcoming a traumatic situation implies putting the past in the past, to live in the present.
But sometimes, things that happened in the past and that were stressful, shocking or difficult to assimilate, could be affecting certain aspects of your present life.
Many traumatic experiences can be defined as stressful events.
What’s a stressful event?
It’s an unintended event that caused you a lot of stress and exceeded your tolerance mechanisms, preventing you from assimilating the experience of what happened.
A stressful event can be considered as something:
- You experienced firsthand
- You witnessed
- You were made aware of something that happened to others
In their book “Change the Past“, Roberta Milanese and Federica Cagnoni, (2010, Editorial Herder), consider, based on the Brief Strategic Therapy, that:
“Traumatic events” restructure ” the sense of the reality in a dysfunctional way, challenging the representation models of the reality on which each of us builds his own sense of security and control.”
That is, the trauma causes a disruption in the person’s emotional and mental balance, causing them to be trapped in the past.
Normally, the traumatic event is impregnated in your body through different images, smells, feelings, sounds, etc.
And they appear in the present constantly, invading it.
Whether an experience is traumatic or not will also depend on your resilience, that is, your ability to overcome an unfavorable situation and coming out of it stronger.
To overcome a traumatic situation, you may have tried one of the following solutions:
- Trying not to think at all about what happened, to erase the traumatic experience from your mind
- Trying not to feel your fear, anger and pain
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma
- Constantly asking for help, not to overcome your fear, but to reassure yourself
- Feeling sorry for yourself and using the victim role when facing others
- Seeking relief abusing alcohol, drugs or psychotropics
Or, you may have resorted to not reacting to anything, that is, thinking there’s nothing to be done and that nothing is worth it.
All these attempted solutions try, by all possible means, to AVOID what happened.
But tell me,
Did it solve anything?
Have you been able to erase your past?
Have you stopped it from tormenting you?
Doing this makes sense.
But each of these solutions, only maintain the problem.
And if your past problem is keeping you trapped in the present, it’ll just make it harder to create a future.
How to overcome a traumatic situation
I won’t delve into whether what happened was fair, unfair, immoral, horrible … because it could be all that and more.
But what I do want you to understand is that you can’t change the past, because it already happened.
To overcome a traumatic situation, there’s no miraculous cure, no painless or bitter medicine.
You need to accept it, leave the past in the past, to live your present.
The medicine consists of integrating your experience as a part of your life.
To integrate it, you need to give it a different emotional meaning.
That is, return and relive what happened to deal with the images, thoughts and feelings you have.
- If instead of running away, you face it.
- If instead of moving away from any feeling, you allow yourself to feel it.
- If instead of giving up, you accept what happened and you give yourself the space to go through it…
Then, gradually, your thoughts will subside and the feeling will be less painful.
You’ll be able to give it a new meaning that you can accept, and that will allow you to leave the past in the past, so it doesn’t constantly interrupt your present.
Also, when you allow your pain to come in, it will no longer interrupt your present life and will make space for building new experiences.
Thus, the energy you spend in containing your pain in the present, will be available to do other things.
You may be thinking, but Miriam, I don’t want to go through what I lived, to feel what I felt or think about it.
It’s too painful.
I know, because I also had to “relive” some of my hardest past experiences to get rid of them.
I know it’s hard.
All I ask of you is to try it.
Slowly, slowly, slowly, but surely.
Overcoming a traumatic event isn’t easy and you may need professional help, so invest in your welfare and seek help.
If you want to have a free first session with me, just email me at email@example.com
Remember that only if you leave the past in the past, you will be able to live in the present and create a future.
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