Ive been asking some of the members of my group for subjects to blog about to help the creative juices start flowing again and this one in particular caught my eye.
The question or subject is:
Do we increase our stress and emotional damage when we think about and discuss past traumatic events, are we recreating all the negativity or is it more cathartic?
I love this question! And actually there will be different opinions and trains of thought, depending on who you speak to. Heck, even I have differing opinions and an argument occurring in my own head about this question.
In coaching, we are taught to deal with life as it is now. We are not psychologists (unless you are a psychologist) and so although the past may seem important, actually? The behaviours being displayed that need attention, don’t depend on us knowing and going over the past. Instead, what’s important is to recognise the issues and work on an action plan to support new behaviours and approaches regardless of the past.
However! In mindfulness, we see the value in looking back at previous situations and trauma, so that we can recognise in our body and heart what the experience felt like, as a witness to the trauma, where we felt it and help us to bring that forward to allow it to grow, embrace it as a part of us and then release to move forward into our present moments instead of continuing to allow our minds to be in the past creating more stories around what happened previously.
We learn to see the trauma, to witness it without judgement and experience that, as a witness to our mind instead of a slave to it.
Further to that, there is a particular exercise that I use for clients, in which we use negative imagining to show us how powerful the mind is and how it can influence our body, emotions and thought patterns. We do this to then see how on the flip side, positive imagining can be used to help us see things as they are or could be. This isn’t strictly mindfulness but instead mindful based exercise to help us see the benefits and strengths of the mind and how we can choose, with practice, which thoughts to pay attention to, leading to more and more time being in our own present moments.
So what is my opinion? I feel that thinking about and discussing past problems and traumas has its uses, providing it is done in a clear way with clear objectives to it. The point of discussing such issues, is to be able to release from the stories we have created around that one incident. The point is to feel how that has been impacting and triggering our lives and to then release ourselves from that trauma, taking the real lesson forward and leaving behind the extras that we have added to it over time.
It’s helpful to talk about old stuff that is bothering you, because it gives you the opportunity and the freedom to let it out. To release those things you’ve held onto. It allows you to better flow and stop allowing the past to influence your present moments. Yes we may well increase our stress levels by working through the issue, but actually that is a short term bodily reaction that can then be allowed to dissipate by allowing yourself to be a witness to your past.
But with no clear motive or reason to discuss the past trauma? It can lead to manifestation of those issues or the negativity surrounding it. And can lead to reliving the trauma and being right back there, instead of witnessing it as something that occurred and being able to finally release yourself from the burden of carrying that around.
For me, that’s why I feel counsellors, therapists and mindfulness coaching is so so important to each and every one of us. In my own training to coach in mindfulness, I have been able to release and flow with my own life better, I am more able to witness the situations in my life and see them as something occurring that I have a choice in how I react, this in itself has led to me carrying around a lot less of the past and having more ability to release and move forward so that I am not living in the past, nor projection into the future based on the past. I will be working with someone else shortly too, to help get to some root issues regarding my health and again, that is so important to me, so that I can continue to help and support others.
No matter who you are, having that opportunity to release, un-burden (is that even a word?) and move forward to a more peaceful state of mind is, I feel massively important and a right for everyone should they choose to.
All of the above being said, we are each universal energy and we create our own realities. If you are feeling and speaking negatively, thats what you will see within your life. Same as with positivity. Consistently speaking of, or dredging up the past negativities of your life, will of course lead to you seeing more and more of the same, but speaking of the past negativity for the purpose of no longer allowing it to influence your present, I feel brings more of that strength, positive action and positive reflection into your life.
After all, with all things there is shadow and light, and we do not exist solely in one. Balance is key.