Letting Go of the Story
by Diane Linsley
One of the biggest problems that many people have is they are
stuck in their own story. Every time we tell our story in the same
way, we experience the same emotions. Why do we do this?
I believe that we are reluctant to let go of the story because we
are afraid that we will forget what happened in the past, and then
it might happen again. Basically, we are afraid of memory loss.
We keep the memory fresh by practicing remembering. The more
we practice, the stronger the neural pathways become - like ruts
in a dirt road where cars have gone over the same path many times.
The Price of Remembering
Remembering past trauma might make us more vigilant, but there's
a price to pay. When someone hurts us, it happens at a moment
in time. After that, it's no longer happening. But if we are afraid it might happen again, we will replay the incident in our minds over and over. It's like getting hurt repeatedly.
When I was young, my grandma often told me stories of her past trauma. When she lost her memory due to Alzheimer's disease, she suddenly became a very happy person. She didn't recognize any of her family, which was probably a good thing, but she was as cheerful as a child without a care in the world. Finally, she was free of the past.
How would her life have been different if she had been able to drop the story sooner and live in the present moment - without having to lose her mind? Joy can only be experienced in the Now, as spiritual teachers like Eckhart Tolle remind us. Emotional trauma can cause damage to the hippocampus - the part of the brain that is involved with memories. If you suspect that you or someone in your life has brain damage, I recommend studying the work of Dr. Daniel Amen. His protocols for repairing brain damage include diet, exercise, supplements, and mental exercises. Dr. Amen also recommends Holosync meditation. I've been doing Holosync since 2007, and it has helped me tremendously.
Processes for Letting Go
Here are some of my favorite processes for letting go of negative thoughts, feelings and memories.
Deep Breathing - When breathing in, imagine filling up the lower belly, then the chest, and finally, the head. When breathing out, just relax and let the breath go naturally. Don't push it out. Breathe through the nose, not the mouth. This calms the nervous system. I do this for 10 minutes every morning before I get out of bed. It energizes me and starts my day on a positive note.
Accepting/Releasing - As you breathe in, think the word "accepting." As you breathe out, think the word "releasing." Continue breathing like this until you experience a shift or a feeling of release.
Another breathing technique that may be helpful is the Wim Hof Method.
Energy work or massage therapy to release emotions from the physical body.
Delete the Picture - This is a process for letting go of a specific memory. Start by creating a picture in your mind that represents the memory. Visualize it clearly. Then turn the picture black and white (instead of color), shrink it to the size of a postage stamp, and move it off to the side and far away so it's no longer in the center of your visual field. How does this feel? Next, imagine throwing it into the ocean, incinerating it with a torch, or giving it to God. Try different things until you find what works for you.
Another way to deal with a negative story is to turn it positive. That way, whenever it resurfaces, the charge will be neutral or positive. Try these techniques:
I've always found it helpful to process my experiences through writing. I still have some of the writings from the year of my divorce. Here's why:
I knew that if I didn't have a written record of what happened, I would try to keep the memories alive in my mind as a way of preventing myself from going back to my ex-husband. I have a tendendy to forgive and forget too easily. I needed to have the memories in writing so I wouldn't later think that getting divorced was a mistake. I suffered from cognitive dissonance during that marriage, and I couldn't trust myself to think clearly or remember accurately.
Since I have a written record, I don't have to keep the negative memories alive in my mind. I am free to remember the good times, which helps me to create positive expectations for my future.
When writing, be sure to include what you have learned from your experiences. As Bill Harris says, "Once you have the learnings, you no longer need the feelings. The feelings are just there to point you to the learnings."
Follow Your Passion
The best way to leave the past behind is to follow your passion. Whatever you focus on grows. Over time, your brain remodels in order to function better at whatever tasks you are currently working on, as explained in The Mind & The Brain by Jeffrey M. Schwartz.
This works both ways. I know someone who has lived her whole life rehashing the past every single day. Her mind is a steel trap for memories. She remembers everything in vivid detail because that's what she practices doing. I dread seeing her because she only sees my past self - not who I am today.
Happy people live in the present and look forward to the future. I believe that when you are following your passion, it's unlikely that you will get derailed by a narcissist. Even if it happens for a brief time, you would exit the situation quickly in order to continue following your passion.
I've coached many people who have experienced abuse, and I've noticed that the ones who don't get better lack a sense of purpose. Many of them gave up their careers, hobbies, and even the care of their own bodies because they were focused on pleasing the narcissist. When the relationship was over, there was nothing to live for because they never created a purposeful life.
If you don't have a passion, create one! This is your life. No one can live it for you. As you focus on your passion, your brain will naturally let go of the past as it develops in the direction of your goals. When you are truly passionate about something, you will find a way to succeed, and no one can stop you.
Why Let Go of the Past?
"Hurt people hurt people. Healed people heal people."
I learned about vicarious trauma in this video by a therapist who became extremely ill from listening to trauma stories every day. Your recovery is essential to your own happiness, as well as the happiness of everyone in your life.
Life goes by so quickly. No matter how difficult our circumstances are, there's always something we can do in the present moment, which is the only time in which we can act.
One of my favorite books is Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything by Viktor E. Frankl, who survived four years in the Nazi concentration camps. This inspiring book helped me to clarify my life purpose. If you want to go deeper into discovering your life purpose, I recommend reading Destiny of Souls: New Case Studies of Life Between Lives. Michael Newton was a hypnotherapist who helped people remember their experiences in the spirit world. This book changed my map of reality and helped me get in touch with my soul's reason for being here. Here's a song to help you connect with the joy and freedom that comes from letting go.
As a life coach, I use many different processes to help
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