Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Shift in Thinking

A friend got me to thinking about a topic I thought I might write about.  I’m writing about it in the hopes it might assist those dealing with memories that are unpleasant.  Certain happenings in our lives will create emotion and attach to a certain frame of a prior scene in our lives.  For whatever the reason, that frame may replay over and over again in our heads and often bring back the original emotion from the initial occurrence.   These can be brutally difficult to deal with and if surfacing memories bring back all of the emotion of some initial trauma, first and foremost, I recommend that you seek outside assistance via a counselor or even your medical doctor.  They can get you the help you need in some of the more severe episodes and this article is by no means intended to be used instead of the proper clinical treatment protocols.  Having said all of that, I liken difficult memories to aftershocks.  The original 6.0 occurred at some point in time and it left its mark within your being.  The memories of the original event are the 1, 2 and 3.0 aftershocks that surface from time to time and then eventually dissipate.  A psychologist or psychiatrist can explain the reasons for this based on their clinical training and study.  I am not one so cannot speak clinically.  I speak from my own experience for whatever it may be worth.

I have encountered events in my life at times that left me with post-traumatic event syndrome.  This is not as severe as PTSD by any stretch but rather a much  lesser version that occurred from a shocking single event or a collective of shocking events in a short period of time that resulted in hypervigilance, insomnia, high-anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares, replay of the shocking scenes over and over again and periodic memories of the original traumatic events taking too much focus in my consciousness to the point of continual distraction.    At first, these were quite disturbing to me and I became upset when the memories surfaced.  I armed myself with knowledge, the services of a trained clinician and gave myself lots of time and patience to heal.  Although my traumatic and shocking events are long over with, occasionally a memory will surface.  When these happened initially, I was worried that something was wrong which added unnecessary anxiety an fear to what I was experiencing.  Becoming worried was actually adding more fear to the pain and that just wasn’t working for me.  Over time, I learned to process the occurrences and why they were so shocking to me.  I eventually learned that time will heal all wounds and having a memory surface does not undo all the healing work I have done.  I have learned that the memories just sometimes surface and I began to train my mind to see them not as more trauma to deal with but an opportunity to accept that surfacing emotions and memories are actually a sign that I was progressing with my healing.  I would imagine that the fact that these things are surfacing within my consciousness rather than remaining buried was a good sign, a sign I was healing and I would imagine every time an unpleasant memory surfaced a beautiful pink light being taken into the tender place that memory surfaced from to bring it even more healing.  I realized that I could witness and observe the memory surfacing without attaching emotion to it.  Yes, there were unpleasant things that happened but I am not those things, those things were not my fault and there is nothing wrong with me that made them happen and despite them, I learned to grow and heal.

My spiritual training has taught me that I choose to attach emotion to things and I choose to attach emotion to things when I do not understand the whole picture.  For my events, I have long understood the reasons for their occurrence (including my reaction which was quite normal and reasonable) and it removed from me the pain and fear of those events.  I have forgiven the people involved even if my mind sometimes will not fully forget and not forgetting is actually okay.  I do not dwell with worry over unpleasant memories or traumatic ones.  Those events do not define me nor do they bring anything at all to me other than a reminder of a very challenging situation I experienced for a reason and transcended with love, patience, self-acceptance and understanding.  I choose no longer to attach emotion to prior memories.  I try to witness them all whether positive or negative as just a string of events.  I can choose to attach emotion to them when I wish to but most often I don’t.  Attaching emotion to memories requires that some part of me live in the past, at least in my own mind, and I much prefer to be very present in this now moment.  In this moment, I am free from the way I grew up, I am free from all of my challenges of the past, I am free from self or external judgment, I can just exist, be and love as I choose.  I am at peace and gratefully so in the present moment.  Through compassion for self and others, forgiveness of self and others and patience with myself primarily, I have moved past the traumatic memories of a long-ago string of events (oh and cannot forget the amazing assistance of a very trusted clinician).  They are my past, a part of my history or story but they are not me and I need not hold them with any significance right here right now even if my memories should decide seemingly of their own volition to challenge my perspective on this.

Life is hard sometimes and we unwittingly make it harder all the time with our assumptions and emotions.  But, we can go into our deep thinking states with love in our hearts and the intent to understand and free ourselves from the heavier and unpleasant emotions from the past.  We can forgive and we can move on knowing that the spirit and soul is energy and, therefore, not harmed by physical occurrences we have experienced in this life.  Relax into the seat of the soul as much as you can and just notice your thoughts or memories from time to time.  If you’d like to know more about these concepts, I highly recommend a couple of wonderful authors – Gary Zukav (The Seat of the Soul), Byron Katie (I Need Your Love.  Is That True?) and Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now).  When I read some of the concepts in their books, they became a launching pad into transforming the knowledge base of understanding and creating from there my own practical application that worked for me personally.  I owe a huge debt of gratitude to many authors but these three resonated with me the most when I was working on healing and gave me the most valuable pieces of information.  We are not our thoughts.  We are not the ones thinking our thoughts…the true consciousness of us is the observer within the soul and not the mini me egotistical mind.  WE are bigger than the ego and understanding how the ego can become trapped in pain and wounds is so helpful.  Freeing yourself from the illusions long enough will help you uncover the truth.  Again, let me state though – do not hesitate to seek the assistance of a trained clinician.  They can help bring you great healing provided you are willing to do the work to heal and transcend the experiences that have brought you disharmony. If you are not willing and open to doing the work, you will have created an untenable emotional prison to try to exist in.  Please do not remain in such a state.  You deserve so much more than that dear ones.  In love and light, I pray you all find great healing for all that even remotely ails you.  Blessings.

© 2013 Jaie Hart (photo, random internet find)

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