How to cope and heal when painful memories hijack your mind

Antoinette Lavoisier

(Photography by Getty images)

There are times when we are having a nice day, and suddenly someone says something that triggers us or something reminds us of painful trauma from the past. Our mood quickly drops and we become withdrawn into ourselves to begin relieving those devastating moments in our mind. Sometimes right away our memories of pain can lead us into depression. We feel trapped inside ourselves and we want to feel better about ourselves and our life's. Unfortunately we feel like we can't get out because we know that we will never forget. Although we will never forget there are ways to prevent our painful trauma experiences from ruining our present life and constantly stealing the joy from us. This is 6 ways to prevent our painful traumatic from ruining our present life.

1. Go to a place that makes you feel safe.

When you feel those old painful memories began to play in your mind quickly move yourself into a place of peace where you feel safe and loved. If you have a spouse or loved one cuddle with them or hold their hand. For those of us that are single cuddle with your pets or friends. Just creating a physical connection between yourself and those you love automatically begins to calm ourselve’s down and reminds us that we are loved. If you do not have a loved one close by then go to the beach or any beautiful place in nature to get away from the triggers of past pain. Nature can help release muscle tension and blood pressure. Just spending some time outdoors significantly reduces the stress hormones as well. Nature also boosts endorphin levels and dopamine production, which promotes happiness. Take the time to go for a short walk in nature to impact your mood and sort through your old pain.

2. Cry it out to ease the pain.

Many of us have been conditioned not to cry but crying is a healthy way to release pain. Crying emotional tears releases oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals in our brain make people feel better and may also ease both physical and emotional pain.
Don't judge your tears or try to rationalize them just let them out. After we cry it is easier to control painful thoughts. We can make a decision to move through painful memories smoothly by reducing the pressure built up inside ourselves. Allowing yourself to cry when you need to will take the edge off of how strong past pain still feels when we experience it again. Then we can talk ourselves down and remind ourselves that it is only the past and proceed with our present life into our futures.

3. Remind yourself of the love you currently have now despite your past trauma.

If you have family and friends who love and appreciate you recognize that those relationships are the highest of riches. Real love can't be bought or sold even by billionaires. Despite your traumatic past you still managed to form loving relationships with people who support you. That's a big step for those of us who have experienced pain in the past that made us feel unworthy of love and acceptance. On days that old pain creeps in to try and steal your joy look at the love in your life. Live in the moment with those people and take it all in to despite those bad feelings. If your family isn't close to you try looking at old photos in photo albums or social media that remind you of happy times. I personally have a online photo album saved and titled happy memories just for this purpose. There is no knowing when and where traumatic memories will come so try to be prepared for them.

4. Think of all you have achieved because of your painful past.

Think for a moment when your past pain is pulling you down.

How has some of the hurtful things you have gone through made you into a stronger person?

Being abandoned or neglected can create people with strong independence skills. Being abused emotionally or physically teaches many of us how to defend ourselves. Experiencing scary life threatening violence teaches a lot of us how to react in dangerous situations. It's a horrible fact of life how we sometimes acquire the knowledge we need to thrive . However, these experiences can produce positive results in us if we chose it. Many people such as Oprah Winfrey, Jk Rowling and Jim Carey have used their past traumas to propel their careers and inspire others to do the same. Try to keep in mind all of things you have accomplished for yourself because of bad things you made it through. You don't have to compare yourself to successful celebrities or tycoons. Maybe you did something much better like became a supportive loving parent, inspirational friend or loving husband or wife.

5. Change the narrative about your past trauma by rescuing yourself

The next time you are triggered and began reliving your past trauma relax and meditate. When you become relaxed send your current yourself into those memories. Go to the broken child you used to be or the scared younger self and comfort them. Say to your damaged self all the things you wish someone had said to you. You are beautiful, loved, strong and I love you. Tell them who they are destined to become and how much stronger they will be because of their experience. It sounds a little weird to do but I know from personal experience that this works. The more you do it the less reactive you will be to your triggers. I still experience triggers and feeling of past pain but they no longer hijack my entire day or lead me to depression. I have learned how to work through them by acknowledging them and practicing the techniques listed in this article.

6. Do not suppress your emotional trauma

If you suppress your emotional pain it only makes it worst. When we suppress the pain we have inside ourselves it becomes a hungry angry monster. Our triggers will increase and eventually lead to depression. The monster inside us leads us to behave in irrational ways. We may become distant or hurtful to the ones we love and or lose our ability to experience or express happiness. Studies have shown that suppressing your feelings actually endangers your health and well-being, both physically and psychologically. Try to avoid just sucking it up and pushing through it. Bottling it up leads to an eventual burst.

If you or someone you know is experiencing ptsd, depression, or unable to control invasive past traumatic memories I urge you to seek mental health services as soon as possible.

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My mission is to provide proper mental and emotional help for those who need support to over come difficult life challenges. Many people need help with healing past trauma and increasing self esteem to overcome body image and self worth issues. I intend to provide information to help people better love themselves and achieve their dreams. I have been a successful body positive inspirational content creator since 2014. I will provide helpful information for other social media content creators that will help them grow and thrive in social media as well.


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