Monday, January 20, 2014

A Simple Trick to Heal Painful Memories

Have you ever wondered why you’re not comfortable with some persons you have just met, to the point that you’re easily irritated with those persons for no reason at all? That, when you talk about some “sad” events in your past, you can still feel the pain, as if it just happened?  That, you want to block some memories of embarrassment that made you angry with yourself?  Can you still do something that would help you move on, be free of pains and embarrassment of the past?

What we are now is the result of our past experiences, from infancy to present.  Study shows that childhood traumas affects adult behavior. A study of abused or neglected children shows that  majority of them have difficulty developing a strong healthy attachment to caregiver.  Children who do not have healthy attachments have been shown to be more vulnerable to stress.  They have trouble controlling and expressing emotions, and may react violently or inappropriately to situations.  The ability to develop healthy, supportive relationships with friends and significant others depends on having first developed those kind of relationships with their families. 

A child with complex trauma history may have problems in romantic relationships, in friendships, and with authority figures, such as teachers or police officers. Since the traumas are often an interpersonal nature, even mildly stressful interactions with others may serve as trauma reminders and trigger intense emotional response.   Having learned that the world is a dangerous place where even love ones cannot be trusted to protect them, children are often vigilant and guarded in their interactions with others and are more likely to perceive situations as stressful  or dangerous.  A child with a complex trauma history may be easily triggered or “set off” and is more likely to react very intensely.

  A child who feels powerless or grew up fearing an abusive authority figure may react defensively and aggressively in response to perceived blame or attack, or alternately, may at times be over controlled, rigid, and unusually compliant with adults. Children learn their self-worth from the reactions of others, particularly, those closest to them.  Shame, guilt, low self-esteem, and a poor self-image are common among children with complex trauma histories.
We may not be an abused nor neglected. But, in some point of our lives, we all have experienced pain, embarrassment and fear, which still affect us adversely the moment we recall the incident. What I am trying to point out is that, our fears, our unexplained painful reactions and embarrassments have origins.  And, such “negative reactions” are sometimes hindering us from forming a healthy relationship with our friends, love ones and co-workers, and in the end our happiness is sacrificed. Sometimes, in our desire to protect ourselves, we missed an opportunity to be “happy” or grow out of our cocoon.

Going back to the question, “Can we still do something that would help us move on, be free of pain, traumas and embarrassment of the past without the help of an specialist- a psychiatrist, a psycho-analyst or a psychologist? I’m sure we can! The answer lies in our hand, on our decision and on how serious we are in changing our reaction to our past experiences. Past is past and we cannot change the past. We can, however, change our reaction in dealing with the past.  What we are now is the product of our experiences, from infancy to present. By changing a variable, the result can be changed.

 Twenty years ago, I met Sr. Sonia Punzalan, a Cenacle Sister.  She taught me a “Trick”, which she called “Healing of Memories”.  The trick had been very effective with me, so I would like to share this with you hoping it would give you similar result.  Here is how it is done:

1.     Recognize that you have some memories which need to be healed, maybe a painful or an embarrassing  event.

2.    With a person you trust, find a comfortable place, free from intrusion; It can be a room, a chapel, any peaceful place. The  role of your companion is either the one in command or one who will help you be in control of the situation.

3.    Try to relax, by doing a deep breathing exercise repeatedly.

4.    When in a state of relaxation, recall the event, refresh the memory which you want to heal.

5.  Once again, experience the “pain” inflicted to you or the  “embarrassment” you suffered from the situation.  Allow yourself to feel and express your feelings.  Cry if you can.

6.   Then, in your vision,  a person very close to you, or maybe Jesus (if you are a Christian) come to you, embraces you and let you feel that He/she understand what you are feeling.  Allow yourself to pour what you feel to your imaginary companion. You’ll feel that you are not alone, you are accepted for what you are, you are understood and loved. Then, you were relieved.  Little by little, you’ll feel calm and peace.

7. You will tell yourself that you forgive the person who inflicted you pain or embarrassment.  You will keep repeating the act of forgiving until you feel that you are sincerely doing it.

8.    Then, your trusted imaginary person, or Jesus shall be happy with what you did, and your calmness and peace will remain with you when you open your eyes.

9.    The next time you recall the incident, It won’t be the same experience.  You can now relate the event without undergoing the same experience.

If we were able to forgive others for hurting us, please try to forgive yourself, too.  Sometimes, we’re too hard on ourselves that we expected too much.  When we fail, we got too embarrassed with our failure.  We cannot accept our limitations and blame ourselves for our failure, not recognizing the fact that we did our best, that there were other things that happened beyond our control.  Hence, it’s very important to forgive others and ourselves before we go to sleep every night to unload excess baggage.

By forgiving others and ourselves, unwanted memories will be replaced.  Forgiveness can bring us peace, happiness and health. 

Forgive.  Move on.  Be happy!

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