Many of us dwell on the past. We regret things we should have handled differently. We have a painful memory that haunts us. We replay an event over and over again in our minds.
Guess what? In all my years of working with clients I have also found that repressing the past is just as bad as dwelling on it. Whether you think about the past all the time or you never think about the past, one thing is sure -- you have a problem. They are just different versions of the same exact coping mechanism.
Repression occurs when your unconscious mind says if you have to think about something all the time then you’re never going to be happy so it removes it from your conscious awareness.
I had a client who was date raped when she was a teenager. For four years she had no memory of it at all. In fact, she would have said she was a virgin. She had all this guilt and shame in addition to all the hurt associated with the rape suppressed.
You might think it’s impossible to forget something that traumatic. But this sort of thing happens all the time. It’s not always something so severe, but it’s a painful memory or event we repress nonetheless. We become pros at locking something away and pretending it’s not there, whether it’s something terrible we have done or something terrible we have experienced.
At one time the prevailing thought in psychology was if you don’t think about those negative things they won’t hurt you. Today we know that nothing could be further from the truth! Suppressing painful memories can cause very adverse effects on your mental and physical health.
Our bodies are built to be healthy. In her book, “Who Switched Off My Brain?” Caroline Leaf writes about the body’s many macrosystems and microsystems. Out of all of those, guess what? We have no mechanisms in our body designed for the negative.
Almost every doctor I know subscribes to something called the barrel effect, which I have mentioned before. Dr. Dorris Rapp, founder of children’s environmental medicine and recipient of many humanitarian awards, was the first doctor I recall mentioning it. Visualize the stress in your life contained in one big barrel. As long as that barrel is not full, our body can handle new stress. Once our barrel is full, however, the smallest thing will cause it to overflow. We’ll feel overwhelmed, anxious and even physically sick. For me, it manifested itself as acid reflux. For my wife Hope it was depression. For my brother it was cancer.
So what fills up our barrel? Mostly fear-based memories and past events that have never healed. You may make some positive changes in your life, but until you empty your barrel, you’ll experience anxiety, worry and fear, as well as some minor health issues.
You may never break, you may break in 10 years or you may break tomorrow, but you are spinning a roulette wheel if you don’t empty and heal your barrel. Fix that stuff that is filling up your barrel. Don’t delay!
If you are looking for a blueprint that can help guide you, I suggest you take my new X-Factor quiz. This simple 4-question quiz will shed light on things you may not know about yourself. And many times it is what you fail to see that is the key to changing your life.
Whether you are constantly dwelling on the past or never thinking about it, you are being kept out of the present. The only place you can be happy, truly happy, is in the present and very few people live in the present because they are either hung up on the past or worried about the future. Here’s to letting go of the past for good and living in the present.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!