“Two things that prevent us from happiness: living in the past and judging others.” –Paul Chello
Fact is, the past has taught us so much, both good and bad. We all have our past in us. Sometimes too much in us.
If you’re always looking in the rearview mirror of your life, then you’ll crash as you drive forward into life.
Perhaps that’s what Paul Chello meant when he said living in the past prevents happiness.
If the events and relationships we experienced along the way in our life were bad or felt bad, we develop trauma “knots.” The memories, images, emotions, warnings and result of a bad experience stay with us and then we have a reaction to these trauma knots or memories. Because it feels bad to remember them.
Just looking at the trauma knot doesn’t seem to change much. But what if something different could happen so that the trauma knot could unravel and transform?
Say we use the brilliant statement of Paul Chello and make a decision to not live in a the past. So where do we live when we have always used the past to help guide us into our future?
How do we change our relationship to our past?
Let’s get Curious here. What does NOT living in the past look like? What would you not be doing?
The small difficulty is that before you can stop living in the past, you have to think about the past! (Now there’s a logic knot for you). We can use our past to point to how to do things differently in the future but to remember the difficulties or traumas of the past we have to feel the pain.
Remembering the past is like stumbling on a knot inside of you that hurts. You react to the knot and feel its feelings. They could be regrets, remorse, jealousy, sadness and so on. Not pretty. It makes sense we move away from these emotional knots inside of us as a result of the emotional pain they bring.
Untangling the trauma knot
It does take a heaping helping of Courage to look at the past and learn something from it. When you can be with your trauma knots, give yourself some Self Compassion for how hard it was at that time, and know you did the best you could, we begin to change our present relationship to past events.
But if we can be with our past, with Compassion for how hard it was at that time – and witnessing the story from the perspective of how a good friend might listen – we can feel more connected to ourselves rather than a victim to the pain that the trauma knot holds.
We become connected to our past in a different way and we don’t just replay in our minds and feelings the events of the time where he said and she said over and over again.
We can ask the part of us holding the pain not to overwhelm us as we stay with this part and be Curious as to what belief it got from that “bad” experience. What choices have we made as a result of that “bad” experience?
Now you can stop living in the past – and be happier
Now that you are older and wiser, how could you do something differently going forward? What skills do you have or need to help you go in the direction away from what you do NOT want to happen?
Change your relationship with those stories from your past that still bring emotional pain by imagining they are like a knot. They need curiosity, compassion and focused attention to unravel and transform.
My new book is like de-tangler for trauma knots
Yes, you read that right. I have a new book coming out! I’m making the final edits this week and then turning it over to my designer so it can become a real book.
The key to leading a happier, more balanced life is to bringing Self harmony to our inner family system. I wrote my first book Inner Harmony: Putting Your Self Back in Charge to introduce the world at large to IFS. It explains Self, parts, and what I consider to be the “first” three qualities of Self: Calm, Compassion, and Curiosity.
My new book is designed to help you get to know your parts so you can dissolve trauma knots. It’s in journal or workbook format with exercises to help you meet your parts in a safe, healing, and most importantly, transformative way.
Want to be notified when my book is ready? Make sure you’ve signed up for my email list and you’ll be among the first to know. I can’t wait for you all to get a chance to read it and apply it!
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