How to transform a traumatic event from the past - and change your view (and your life)!
Do you sometimes bump up against a recurring problem in your life, and seem to have no power or control over it? The same situation keeps repeating, with different people, and you don’t know why?
What do you think is going to happen if you don’t address this phenomenon? Where do you think your recurring problem is going to go? Ten years down the road, will it still be there? (Spoiler alert: If you don’t address it, sadly, it will.)
What’s actually happening? Let’s take a look.
According to many spiritual teachers, all experiences have the purpose of serving the soul. Whenever we face adversity, we have an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson and to bring balance to an important area in our lives. But sometimes fear distorts our perception of what is actually happening.
Especially in our early childhood, when we were mostly instinct and survival driven, the fears that came up for us during the most significant of these experiences changed and distorted how we perceived the actual event.
Those fears revolved mostly around abandonment. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, being abandoned as a small child would inevitably lead to our death by exposure or to a predator. This fear of abandonment is so ingrained and genetically programmed in us that we try to prevent it at all costs.
If the significant event in our childhood happened repeatedly or impacted us on a deeper level, we eventually made a decision about ourselves during or after the event in our subconscious mind (“I’m not good/ strong/ smart enough…”, “I’m on my own.”, “I don’t fit in.”). This (subconscious) decision was often accompanied by guilt or shame and it often still blocks us now, in the present time, on the subconscious level.
To transform this limiting experience in the past which still affects us in the present, we need to bring what really happened, and the decision we made about ourselves then, to light through awareness.
You can never outsmart your subconscious. You can only be as successful - in any area - as your subconscious mind believes it to be possible.
Here are three steps to dismantle a negative event from the past. Please consult with your health care professional, therapist or trained life coach for deep trauma work. Not every life coach is trained to support you with this kind of deeper emotional work. As with your medical doctor, always apply good common sense, do your own research as well and be responsible for your own healing.
Recall the past experience that might be blocking you in the present. Write down “What happened” and list the things you remember. **Facts only!**“He said, she said”. (Example: I was twelve years old, I took a picture of a sunset with a cheap camera and showed it to my Mom. I said, “I want to send this to National Geographic.” She said, “It’s not good enough.” I was disappointed and stopped taking pictures after that.)
On a second piece of paper write “What I made it mean”. Write down the thoughts and emotions you experienced at that moment, feelings of lack, of not being good enough, being hurt, being misunderstood… (I was disappointed and had my high hopes crushed. I was thinking “She’s my Mom and she didn’t like my sunset picture. I will never be a photographer.”)
We as humans have the tendency to collapse those two levels. For the sake of this exercise, lay your two pieces of paper on top of each other. Imagine them merging. Now take the piece of paper on the top and lay it next to the bottom one. Physically separate “What happened” from “What I made it mean” - and look for another possible view on the same situation. What was the other person’s intention, their possible thought process or pain when they said what they said? Who were YOU being that led up to what happened? Can you own your part in this?
There are 8 billion possible views on the same situation. We all make up our own meanings about the events that occur in our lives. It is part of the human condition to see fault in ourselves whenever things go “wrong” - especially as children. Looking at the above example, I fully realized that my mother never said that *I* personally wasn’t good enough (she said, “It’s not good enough - for National Geographic.”) I started remembering that the picture might have been out of focus, the horizon was tilted at an angle, and the cheapo camera had produced a grainy picture with a horrible resolution. National Geographic would certainly not have appreciated it - while in my twelve-year-old mind, I was already winning awards with this picture!
And my poor Mom - was focused on getting dinner ready for her children and wasn’t even aware of how her casual and well-meant remark landed with me!
At the age of 34 (when I first did this exercise and realized the subconscious block I had around photography) I went out and bought a professional camera and a tripod. I started taking photography classes and took pictures of everything I found interesting or inspiring, including many sunsets.
During one of my photography classes I submitted a sunset picture. The teacher, a professional photographer, reviewed our assignments in front of the class and was so moved by this picture that he was choking up, pointing out the colors and composition of it. Soon after I started selling pictures at two local art galleries. I even won a couple of first prizes during some art shows. I never actually submitted any of my pictures to National Geographic but those smaller successes were making me very happy.
Nothing that happens in the world has any meaning - except the meaning we give it. I invite you to go back to the events in your past that left you disempowered and to review what really happened. What happened, and what did you make it mean?