Depression, PTSD, guilt, shame and sadness have their roots in events from your past. When these feelings arise, your mind has been triggered to re-visit the old thoughts and emotions that formed during the original past event. When these feelings arise, you must deal with the thoughts and emotions all over again. This robs you of vital life force. You feel drained and unable to help yourself. You lose the energy to move forward.
What can you do to stop these ingrained mental reactions from resurfacing? Your mind needs new skills. These new skills will push your mind past the old mental reactions into more mature and positive ones. These new skills also stop re-enforcing the ill effects of the past.
At the time of the original event or situation, you did your best. At that time, you used the skills you had learned thus far, because your experiences in life were lesser than they are now. But now, in the present, when your mind re-lives the old feelings, you have the opportunity of facing the causation more maturely, examining it from every angle, and reprogramming your brain into a different mental reaction.
Below are some new ways to deal with unwanted feelings formed in the past. Depending on your particular situation, some of these work better than others. Try these out and see what works best with your mind:
- When your mind revives an old unwanted feeling, greet it like an old long-lost friend. Say something like, “Hello, my old friend — that deep sadness and feeling of abandonment.” Why do this? Because you cannot get rid of old suffering until it resurfaces. Be grateful for the opportunity.
- When an old, undesired mental pattern is triggered, thank it for helping you survive the original event or situation. That mental pattern is part of you and to loathe any part of you is to thwart your peace and joy.
- Name at least one good thing that came out of the original event or situation. Suffering is our greatest teacher. Find the lessons in your suffering.
- Turn your old thought upside down. For instance, if you were neglected by your alcoholic mother and you repeatedly have the thought, “I always needed a Mother who loved me,” try out several alternate statements. The first is: “I did not need a mother who loved me.” This alternate thought could help you realize how independent and capable you became. You may feel grateful that your mother’s neglect helped you develop this strength. The second alternative is: “My mother always needed me to love her.” This alternate thought may help you realize that your mother felt desperately unloved and unconsciously wanted her children to cure her: to love her unconditionally. This could help you understand that your mother’s feelings were her own internal issue and in no way your fault. Alternate thoughts like these will start to blossom your compassion for others.
- Contemplate other people involved in the original event or situation. Ask yourself what was driving their actions at the time? How did this affect their life? How would they feel about it now? Do they have trauma similar to mine? Examining the perspective of other people involved will provide you with a bigger picture. It will pull you away from the “poor little old me” syndrome. With the bigger picture in mind, you cultivate compassion.
Practicing the skills above, your mind gets unstuck from its old programmed reactions. The old draining energy patterns transmute into new ways to look at your life. At first, you need to work hard at learning the new skills. Over time, your mind gains an ease with them. Your mind starts to enjoy the new-found peace. With peace, your ability to move forward in a new light becomes automatic.