Thursday, January 10, 2013

Healing from our Past

I was given a book for Christmas: "The 7 Wonders That Will Change Your Life," by Glenn Beck and Keith Ablow.

I began reading it to my husband during a roadtrip, and realized it was some type of self-help book. I wasn't really that interested, but kept reading as it was the only book we brought along for the trip. There are some pretty funny parts, and some boring parts, and some really interesting parts; but the part that really rang true to me was about re-visiting your past in order to heal and become a better person now. I have found this to be a very true principle. (Of course, if you don't have any harrowing memories from your childhood/adolescence, then this post isn't for you. And congratulations if that be the case!)

Example of why you need to revisit your past in order to have a healthier future:

"A person is asked to read pages 125-225 of a 500 page novel, and then write an ending. In order to write something credible and convincing, you'd want to know what happened to the main character in the first 124 pages. You'd want to know the character's back story -his or her earlier life history. Without this information, you would likely feel that you could not move forward with confidence; that the next chapter you would write would ring untrue to readers.
When we try to move forward with our lives without a true understanding of its earlier chapters, we ask ourselves to do something that is no less fraught with difficulty. Stop moving blindly ahead and start moving closer to your truth."
p. 106

It can be difficult to really face, think about, and re-discover painful memories from our past. Why is it so painful? "The answer is that the memories and feelings we buried were from times when we were especially sensitive and easily hurt--during childhood and adolescence-- and when we suffered such jarring losses as adults that we felt completely disempowered. Because we registered and "recorded" these memories and feelings with the hearts of children, we still feel exquisitely vulnerable to them." p117.

Again, why revisit the past?:

"In every arena of life, knowing the underlying cause of a malfunction is critical to correcting it or at least to preventing it from doing even more damage. In order to treat physical illnesses or safeguard the community from transmissible ones, doctors need to know their pathophysiology-- how the disease causes its chaos in the human body. It certainly wouldn't do to simply hate the illness or flee it. Only understanding it leads to the ability to eventually triumph over it." p167

There were several experiences from my childhood that I didn't realize I didn't understand what had actually happened until I began to retell them as an adult, with my adult world understanding.

"...These studies prove that someone listening in a compassionate way to another human being's life story can actually alter that person's brain chemistry in a healing way. Compassion can change the brain's metabolism so that energy flow has been restored." p 168 see this page for the full details of the scientific studies.

For some reason that I do not understand, just talking about bad experiences with someone who cared and was interested has helped me to move on and not be bothered by those memories any more. Like I said, I don't understand why, but I know that it has worked for me. Some experiences I needed to understand better, not JUST recount, but often it seemed that by recounting the experiences, I understood them better as well.

Food for thought!

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