Are you letting the trauma from your past impact your future? It is incredibly difficult to make your way through this world carrying around all the emotional baggage from your past, and it is weighing you down. You couldn’t control what traumatized you and made you feel small. You feel especially vulnerable and unsafe when you are triggered, causing you to react in a way that creates a downward spiral.
That’s because your trauma has caused your perspective of the world to shift, and you see it as a place that is generally unsafe. You then start to avoid anything that is connected to that trauma as a way to cope and make sure that bad thing never happens again. You might even know the way you feel when you are triggered is connected to your past trauma, but you still feel overwhelmed by that rush of intense emotion.
This is normal–you have been doing the best you can to cope with the knowledge that you have. However, now is the time to gain even more knowledge and pull yourself out of the cycle of shame and suffering. Here are 5 ways you can start to heal from your past:
Heal from your past by practicing radical acceptance
Radical acceptance is a DBT skill that is based on the idea that suffering comes from your attachment to pain. To reduce the suffering, you acknowledge and accept when situations are out of your control, and you don’t judge them. A lot of the pain and suffering that accompanies trauma is the inability to accept what happened in the past. The brain is doing its best to try and protect you, but there comes a time when you need to be able to accept the past and make some sort of peace with it. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t feel the emotions and the pain associated with what happened to you in the past. It means that you don’t let that pain turn into suffering. The way we think about pain is directly related to how much we suffer from traumatic experiences. Accept reality, and don’t allow yourself to get attached to your emotional reaction to the painful experience.
Work on being more mindful
When you practice being mindful, you are strengthening your ability to just be in the present moment. When you’re living in the present moment, you are much better equipped to handle what life throws at you, because you’re taking things day by day and not wasting energy on the past or the future. It’s a great tool to use whenever you are triggered because it calms the mind and gives you the opportunity to make space between your emotional reaction to the trigger and the way you respond, which is vital in the healing process. That space is everything. The emotional pain may not shrink, but the space you build around that pain will grow and grow, giving it room to breathe.
Take full responsibility
Your happiness is your responsibility and not anyone else’s. When you aren’t allowing yourself to heal from your past, you are letting yourself be a disempowered victim, which doesn’t bring you happiness, it just makes it so you are relying on other people to make you happy. Take responsibility by sitting with yourself and discovering how your mind is currently operating. How have your thoughts been influencing you? Where do you feel trapped emotions? What negative thoughts or memories are playing like a broken record in your mind? Can you notice what thoughts are causing you to suffer and see through the stories that you are telling yourself?
Release the stories you have created about the past
The stories that we tell ourselves keep our emotional wounds unhealed because they keep your mind too busy to be aware of the emotions that are stuck in your body. Once you let yourself become disinterested by these stories, you start to notice the physical sensations that stay stuck in your body as a result of those stories. When you tune into your body, you can start to practice non-judgmental loving awareness. Your feelings will ebb and flow, but your awareness will let these feelings have space to just be what they are without your judgemental stories making up lies. Stories can be distracting, and when you are so wrapped up in these stories, you end up suppressing or ignoring your feelings.
Repeat healing mantras
These mantras can be used in conjunction with your work on mindfulness and acceptance:
I fully accept the past and how it has affected me in the present. I love & accept my wounded inner child with open arms.
I accept & release all past suffering and darkness, and choose to walk into the light.
I forgive those who have hurt me and understand that there are hidden lessons and growth in it all.
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Counseling services at Integrative Counsel
Other mental health services Integrative Counsel provides are depression counseling, anxiety counseling, art therapy, improving codependency and boundaries, grief and life transition, accessing your body informed wisdom, and increasing mindfulness and awareness.
Alli Cravener is a social media coordinator and writer who is passionate about connecting people through words. Alli studied English at Arizona State University and has found her niche uniting concept and content in the realm of mental health and the expressive arts. Alli’s interests include painting, history, learning about other people, and wearing the color pink. She likens herself to a “mouse in a palm tree”, and she loves it that way.