Whilst clearly no-one in their right mind would ever “want” to cling onto memories of unhappy past events, the irony is that when you think or talk about the unhappy past, this is exactly what you “are” doing, as you reinforce these experiences within your mind and remind yourself of all the pain, fear and deep upset you have suffered. Furthermore, as a result of such experiences, it is likely that you have also developed a number of self-limiting beliefs which mean you have less capacity to trust or rely upon yourself. And maybe this also increases the likelihood of you perceiving yourself poorly and then being even more likely to dwell on past difficulties…
Have you ever thought about this before now…Have you ever stopped to realise what you are doing whenever “you talk about the bad stuff from the past.” Maybe you have never appreciated what you are doing but you really are just inviting upset, misery and unhappiness back into the present moment of your life – as if you just called it all up on “google” so you could read all about it again and remind yourself of the detail and the intensity of the pain and emotions you have experienced – all over again. Most importantly, when you do this, your body doesn’t generally realise you’re just “thinking or relflecting” because it cannot distinguish between real and imagined stress, so your thoughts and memories alone can trigger your body into a stress response. When your body is in “protection” mode in this way, it is diverted away from its other mode of “growth and repair.” If you knew this would happen, would you choose to do this to yourself??
NO, OF COURSE NOT
If your answer is “no of course not,” then I urge you to take note of how your mind works and to fully accept that whatever you focus upon is going to significantly influence how you think, feel and behave and then subsequently what happens inside the body, i.e. protection or growth/repair mode. Our minds have 2 important components that are subconscious and conscious. The subconscious mind is immense and is full of thousands of “habits” learned in response to all the stimuli you have experienced in your life, especially when you were young.
By the time a person is about 35yrs old, the subconscious mind is in control for about 95% of the time – which means that your behaviour is mostly your “learned response” to various situations. This translates into, unless you use your conscious awareness, i.e. the 5% that is left, to make changes or to start saying or doing things differently, then you are pretty much stuck in your old patterns, acting out of awareness and triggering unnecessary stress responses by your body. If you’ve had unhappy experiences in your past, then your responses to these events are going to carry on influencing your life and your relationship with yourself unless you “realise” this and decide to start making changes.
Furthermore, unless you work on becoming more aware in this way, it is likely that you will still talk about negative aspects of your past to other people because “life drama” seems to be a common and comfortable topic of conversation – other people talking about theirs which may easily trigger you talking about yours, etc… – try observing conversations that you have this week and see how often people stay rooted in the positive compared to the negative whether it is the current pandemic, the weather, problems with schooling, problems with a partner, with weight, with children or family, work and on it goes…… On TV, online or on the radio, it is likely that you will tune into further negative information that may also trigger you also into negativity and you may not see this happening in an obvious way but you may notice that your mood changes and you can be sure that your internal chemistry is also changing with a response to the stress.…
Overall, the important message I am trying to relay here is that your mind responds to whatever you expose it to, so if you want to have happy thoughts, feel good and avoid unnecessarily triggering your body’s stress response, then be very careful about the ways you interact with other people and the types of conversations you engage in. Become increasingly mindful that negative information in the world around you can have a powerful effect on your mind, mood and body – simply because of what it can trigger within your own subconscious mind and the body’s response to perceived threat.
A FEW TIPS
To start bringing more positivity into your life:
(i) check yourself whenever you find you are complaining about something or telling someone about some personal tragedy or difficulty from your past. Try to catch yourself whenever you are in the moment of “reliving negativity” and be proactive in changing the conversation and sharing something good about yourself.
(ii) smile more often, even when you don’t feeling like smiling because this simple gesture communicates positivity to your mind and increases the chances of positive experiences happening as a result. When you are emanating positivity into the world around you, you are more likely to draw positive experiences towards yourself. Try it and see. Try being aware of having a “smiling” day and observe your experiences and then compare this to a “not smiling” day and compare your observations.
(iii) deliberately focus on good things that happen in your life, which you may also describe as a “gratitude list.” Before you go to sleep at night, take at least 5-10 minutes to write down all the good parts of your day, however small. You might like to imagine yourself “feeding” these thoughts into your unconscious mind for focus as you sleep – rather than worrying thoughts about someone, something or disturbing ideas from a programme you have just been watching. Ask yourself what you’d like your mind to focus on whilst you are resting and recuperating during sleep time and start to become more proactive about what you give your subconscious mind to work on!
NO, BUT ITS NOT MY FAULT
In this case, you may find yourself unable to detach your mind from something that has been overwhelming in some way, feeling like a victim to whatever circumstances you have experienced in your past life or more recently. If you are suffering with the impact of something that has been overwhelming such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse or an abusive relationship that has squashed your personal confidence or a conflicted situation at work that has dented your self belief, then therapeutic coaching can help.
This approach will support you in processing the traumatic aspect of whatever has been overwhelming so that you can minimise the amount of perceived threat that is associated with your past memories. In this way, you will be relieving your body of unnecessary “stress or protection response” and creating more capacity for internal “growth and repair.” Coaching will enable you to learn how to actively work with your conscious and subconscious minds to create emotional freedom and distance from the source of your distress. As your subconscious mind learns to hold increasingly new personal responses in your revised ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, your life may start to become more manageable, less stressful and with time, much happier.
To find out more, contact The Hove Counselling Practice to arrange an initial assessment and to find out how to start radically changing the nature of your life.