The Trauma of Painful Memories
Memory can be a blessing and a curse. Memories are part of how we define who we are and what we stand for as well as a big part of how we connect with other people.
When traumatic memories are a part of the fabric of our past, these memories can cause more harm than good. Trauma-based memories can be the thing that blocks you from being happy in your life, feeling safe, and from creating new relationships.
Every 6 of 10 men and every 5 of 10 women experience at least one significant trauma in their lifetime. 7 out of 100 people will have PTSD during their lifetimes. This means that a large portion of the population is struggling under the weight of significant fear, worry, and other physical symptoms related to a traumatic experience.
Thankfully, there are some ways that you can help yourself to cope with these experiences and move past them toward a healthier and happier life.
1. Start Therapy
There is no shame in getting help to cope with the troubling experience that has caused your trauma. Licensed mental health professionals exist for just this reason and they are there to help you to work with your negative and painful memories to create a better and happier future for yourself. Never be afraid to say that you need some help coping with your trauma.
Once you start to get therapy, you will be given tools that will help you to move past your trauma and attend to its presence in your life. You will never be able to remove the memory that causes you pain or anxiety, but you will learn how to exist with this memory. Therapy is a powerful tool to help with your depression and create better memories and reconnect with parts of your life that you might have shut out due to your trauma.
2. Focus on Positives
If your trauma is related to an experience, train your mind to focus on the positives in your situation instead of the negatives related to your traumatic experience. Your brain is a powerful assistant in working against bad memories or fear and anxiety, and you can teach it to think about happy things instead of negative and sad things.
Make sure that you are aware of times that you are slipping into negative or fearful thinking patterns and work hard to replace those impulses with a focus on happy memories or positive thoughts. This kind of brain retraining is a common part of the therapy process that is used to help people overcome trauma and PTSD.
Letting your brain relax and deal with information is hard these days. We are all busy, distracted, and don’t feel that we have time to care for our mental health needs. However, there is nothing that will resolve your mental conflict related to trauma like meditation.
Meditation allows your brain the chance to be calm and quiet and to sort out and compartmentalize experiences. This might sound like you will just be living through bad memories over and over again, but for most people, meditation allows these memories to be viewed, recognized, and then placed in the right part of the brain as a past event. Meditation also halts the fight-or-flight mechanism that is native to all humans and helps your brain to tell your body that there is no threat and that all is well.
4. Create Positive Experiences
Some kinds of past traumas can be dealt with by forming new experiences that are positive surrounding the activity. If you have almost drowned in the past, for example, creating new and positive swimming memories can help your brain to realize that the trauma of your bad experience is over now.
These processes of creating new memories that are happy and safe are not always possible with every trauma, but they can be a good building block for the kinds of trauma that respond to this kind of therapy. Make sure that you consider having guided help with this process so that you have someone to help you work through panic attacks or other fearful reactions as you attempt to create new memories.
5. Take in the Bad
This might sound like it is a terrible idea, but there is a lot of powerful healing that can come from accepting the negative and traumatic memories that you have and taking them in. For many people, most of what makes trauma so hard to deal with is their desire to get away from it. The flight response is strong enough to make trauma a self-fulfilling prophecy in many cases.
Being willing to take in your traumas and make them a part of you that you are going to attend to on a daily basis can actually help you to stop the flight response from taking over whenever you have a triggering experience. Being willing to accept that you have had a traumatic experience does not mean that you have to run or hide from the experience for the sake of others or to try and spare yourself from pain.
Trauma Can be Healed With Time and Proper Tools
While it might be nice to imagine that someday there will be a process that will simply remove bad memories from the brain, for now, you will need to make sure that you attend to your trauma with patience and commitment. Trauma will not heal with one simple action and you will need to make a concerted effort to deal with and face your traumas to be able to move past them.
Never be afraid to get help from a mental health care professional if you feel that you need it. Mental health is an important part of your overall well being and you deserve the chance to feel happy, secure, and safe every day of your life.
Working with these tips and tricks, you will find that your traumatic memories can be dealt with on a daily basis effectively.
Guest Writer Bio
Gabe Nelson is a content specialist of over 7 years of experience, currently working with downtownsomatictherapy.com. Just out of high school he set off crab fishing on the Bering sea in Alaska. From there he went back home to finish his college degree at the University of Montana. He has written hundreds of content pieces in numerous niches. Currently, he lives in Missouri with his wife and kids.