A website visitor from Virginia asks:
I am trying to heal from a series of traumatic experiences, which I believe is keeping me from realizing my potential, living a fulfilling life. Do you have any suggestions for how I can get past the trauma?
Thank you for your question! Without knowing the specific details, it’s not easy to give a specific answer to your question, but we’ll give it our best effort! In Divine Metaphysics, one of the things we teach is about staying in the present. Too often, we drag our past behind us, letting it weigh us down, and drawing our focus away from where we are headed. We tend to think back over past events and (1) we relive them over and over again and (2) we let it color our expectations of the future. It’s like trying to drag a big trunk filled with everything we have ever owned. All it does is anchor us down, and preventing us from moving forward effectively. We get consumed thinking about what happened and “die a thousand deaths,” even though it is only happening in our imagination.
It is important to remember that we cannot change the past, no matter how much we would like to. Finding acceptance and forgiveness is really the only way to get “past the past.” So you can focus more constructively on the future, an important part of the grieving and healing process. Remember that accepting and forgiving do not mean that you have to like what happened, or that it was okay for it to happen. Forgiveness means letting go – cutting that anchor loose, so that it stops holding you back. Cutting the anchor doesn’t make the anchor go away. It just releases the attachment
It’s not about forgetting, it’s about forgiving. Accept that it happened – that is a fact – and learn to remove your personal judgment that causes the negative feelings you may harbor about a situation. No matter how angry, sad, afraid or worried we get about a situation in our past, those feelings cannot change what happened. All they do is keep those unpleasantries in our line of sight.
When I encounter someone who has gone through a less-than-optimal situation, I like to remind them to look down at their feet. Which direction are they pointing? The human vehicle was designed to move forward, not backward. If our feet are pointing forward, and our eyes and mind are turning backward, we don’t get very far!
Another thing that our philosophy explores is that everything happens for a reason. The experiences you have had would not have happened if they were not meant to. Your soul may have made an agreement to experience these things as part of your eternal path of spiritual growth, either from the lessons they teach, or how your experiences can teach others, or to provide balance (Karma) for something that may have happened previously, perhaps even in a previous life. Regardless of the reason, there is always something positive to find, and a lesson to be learned. Find ways to be thankful that the experience is now out of the way, that you are now empowered to help others, that you are better equipped to handle the situation differently should it ever happen again.
Every cloud has a silver lining. If we spend our time being unhappy about a cloudy day, we lose sight of the positive things a cloudy day does for us, either in terms of perspective (making us more appreciative of sunny days), or what benefit we receive (feeding the plants, replenishing the water supply, protection from intense sunshine, etc.). As the expression goes, sometimes we miss the forest for the trees.
Now the part that is most challenging to answer for you is what to do about it. Obviously, it’s important to find it in your heart to let go. Stop holding onto things you cannot change. That is sometimes easier said than done. First, you might try taking yourself out of the situation. Look at it as if it happened to a stranger. What constructive advice would you give that person? If it’s good enough for them, it’s probably good enough for you. Getting that perspective from a distance can often give you more clarity to help you distinguish what is real (this moment and where you want to go) versus what is not (the past that no longer exists, except what your mind chooses to grasp onto).
Second, remember that in the grand scheme of things, nothing is really “good” or “bad” – it just is. It is our personal judgment, formed by personal, family and cultural influences, which cause us to perceive things as good or bad. A situation that seems unpleasant or undesirable to you might be a reasonable alternative to someone else who is experiencing things differently. It all depends on how we choose to look at it. Ask yourself open-ended (not yes-or-no) questions: “What good came out of the situation?” “What are the blessings that I can be thankful for?” “What are the lessons I have learned that have made me a better, stronger person?” “How can I use these experiences to help others out with their similar situations?” It may help to write your answers down.
If you are finding that your reaction is causing disruption in your life (overwhelming, immobilizing, etc.), it can be helpful to get professional counseling. This doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you – these are natural human reactions. Counseling simply provides some impartial perspective and assistance in sorting out the many complexities of a situation that our human mind sometimes has trouble making sense of on its own.
Remember that we are all responsible for our own path, in this life, and in our eternal spiritual journey. No one can make us happy or sad. Those are states of mind that we must find on our own. No one can “fix” our “problems” for us. The only thing that can truly release us from our burdens is the peace of mind we get when we finally realize that they really aren’t burdens at all. It simply a matter of how we choose to look at and react to them! As humans, we tend to spend a lot of time feeling sorry for ourselves when things don’t go the way we would want them, rather than turning it around and thanking God and the universe for the experience and what we have gained from it. Take the time to find what those things are, even if you need a little help finding your way, and you will be able to look to the future with a clearer mind and an open heart
For ideas on looking at your life in a new way, I would recommend the book The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. This book explores how the “reality” we experience isn’t reality at all, but simply an illusion we have created based on what we have been taught or what we have chosen to settle for as truth, which can be changed. It is a life-changing book, and it may give you some valuable perspective.
Blessings to you.
“Yesterday is a cancelled check. tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is the only cash you have, so spend it wisely.” Kay Lyons