I had things happen in the past I’ve wanted to forget. I’ve hidden out, minimized, and lived in denial. Acting like I wasn’t impacted at all. Trauma has impacted me, but my shame has caused the real damage.
I want my clients to live full and free lives. I don’t want the past holding them back. Frequently I challenge clients to process, and come to term with, past trauma. Their future, and mine, depends on us facing our demons.
3 Big Reasons To Go Back & Get Closure
Reason #1: So You Can Be Fully Yourself
You’re the product of all the events in your life, the good and the bad. Hiding from, or minimizing, the impact of past trauma, means living life without being fully yourself. Needing to hide pasts of yourself creates deep anxiety.
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” – Brene Brown
Reason #2: So Fear No Longer Has Its Way
Most anxiety is connected to not processing through and coming to terms with past events. Everyone needs closure. Pain and resentment that isn’t processed turns into fear. It becomes subconscious fear of that bad situation happening again. Your attempts to avoid that pain create layer upon layer of sensitivities that keep you stuck. You react and let fear make your decisions, not your intuition.
Reason #3: To Stop It From Harming You
When you don’t deal with negative experiences from your past, they harm your life today. Addiction is one way people avoid dealing with trauma. It’s safer to be consumed by an addiction than experience the pain of healing. Denial, minimization, and secrecy are strong temptations. If you live there, you’ll never see how what happened previously impacts you today. You’ll react to situations, rather than intentionally making choices.
“Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.” – C.S. Lewis
If you have read this far, I’m sure you’re wondering what the solution is. What does someone do to deal with unhealed hurts?
Activity #1: Start a Life Timeline
This activity will give you insight into your past, why you have certain triggers (e.g. fears, perspectives, setbacks, etc.), and help you understand yourself better.
Step 1: List any traumatic events that have happened in your life. Examples: car accident, molestation, rape, divorce, ect.
Step 2: List how you felt at the time and how you it impacted you, and your family, back then. If you don’t remember, list how you think it impacted you.
Step 3: Describe how you feel about the situation now and how it impacts you today. Examples: “I fear abandonment,” “I’m terrified of being embarrassed.”
Step 4: List any questions you have about what happened. Questions for your family, a counselor, or even a person who hurt you.
You can use this worksheet to complete the steps and draw your timeline.
Check out part 2, where I’ll give you 3 more big reasons you to make peace with your past.
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