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Who is revisiting painful memories?

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  • #364048
    Trying
    Participant

    Hi dear friends,

    Thank you for being!

    I am on the mindful path and I am trying to accept and deeply know my emotions.

    Painful past moments  often replay themselves  in my mind.Im trying to be aware of what triggers them to pop into my head (for example when Im feeling tired or scared) but I am also curious as to who is trying to talk to me.

    Is it a hurt self image I created thats complaining? Is it an emotion trying to be heard?Is it a habitual pattern of copinv with uncertainty?

    Id like to know what you think causes the reliving and replaying of hurtful events.

    Id like to fully accept whatever is behind it and transform my relationship to it or the painfull memory.

    Thank you

     

    #364060
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Trying:

    Thank you for being, I like that, a mindful saying. Than you for being as well.

    “Painful past moments often replay themselves in my  mind.. who is trying to talk to me… what you think causes the reliving and replaying of hurtful events”?

    People make a distinction between physical injuries and emotional injuries; physical pain and emotional pain; physical abuse and emotional abuse, but everything we experience is physical. A physical injury can cause us to bleed, and as we see the blood, we can see that an injury has taken place. An emotional injury can cause us to feel pain for a long, long time, and the injury is visible, just not as blood, or a bruise or a broken bone.

    When an emotional injury happens, something like this happens, simplified:  the nerve cells (neurons) in our brain secret chemicals called neurotransmitters, and our glands secret other chemicals called hormones. When a parent yells at a child, for example, neurotransmitters are produced and secreted, causing the child to feel fear; powerful hormones are produced and secreted to the blood, travel to the child’s face, causing the child’s eyes to open wide, to the child’s chest, causing the child to inhale and exhale quickly, to shake, etc. Neurons, glands, chemicals- these are all physical, and so all injuries are physical and all are visible (and/ or detected by any of the five senses).

    When painful past moments replay themselves in your brain, what happens is something like this: you see something that in your memory storage is related to the past injury, that cognitive connection leads to your brain and glands to produce and secret the same chemicals that were secreted in the past during the injury, and you get to re-experience the same emotions and the same bodily reactions (face looking scared, or sad, or angry.. heart beat is faster, feeling dizzy perhaps, etc.)

    “I’d like to fully accept whatever is behind it and transform my relationship  to it or the painful memory”- it is possible but it takes a long, long time depending on the painful memory and other factors. It takes changing the chemical reactions (production and secretion of neurotransmitters and hormones) that keep happening in your body as a result of remembering the injury. It takes a persistent practice of mindfulness, of slowing down when the strong tendency is to rush, it takes an understanding that there is no short cut, that it takes time to very gradually, and very patiently change our chemical habitual reactions to memories.

    It also takes making sure that we are no longer available to be re-injured by the same individual/s that injured us (that will keep our memories alive!). It takes not allowing other people to injure us, feeling confident in our abilities to detect being injured and to protect ourselves (being assertive). And it takes even more understanding of what happened.

    I would be glad to continue to communicate with you on the topic if you want.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by anita.
    #364133
    Trying
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    Thank you for your reply. You gave me lots of food for thought.

    Aproaching it from the chemicals produced in our bodies and therefore treating it like a physical wound I understand that like all wounds it needs time and care and also not scratching it or wounding anew…

    “When an emotional injury happens, something like this happens, simplified: the nerve cells (neurons) in our brain secret chemicals called neurotransmitters, and our glands secret other chemicals called hormones.” This got me thinking that it might be possible that you can get hooked on this cycle of negative feelings and then finding some form of comfort? It reminded me of what phsycoanalysts say about recreating in our relationships the unresolved traumas we might have, in the hope it will not play out the same way.

    So maybe I am craving for the suffering of unresolved issues and remaining and recreating a vicious  circle (samsara). And if thats the case my mind and body are well versed in this situation so maybe the reason I keep remembering my hurt and the exact situation is because I feel familiar with myself in pain. Maybe I preffer my hurt and hopeless version to absolute groundlesness(which is a good buddhist state).

    No matter who is trying to tell me something : habit, addiction to bad feelings, hurt child inside me, emotions,etc I definetely will try not to use it against me but respect it as a very large and up to now powerful part of me.

    Therefore any different or similar perspective as to why each of us sometimes replay painful past situations will help me to have tools in my awareness toolbag to investigate and compare!

    So thank you

     

     

     

    I s

     

    #364149
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Trying:

    You are welcome.

    “This got me thinking that it might be possible that you can get hooked on this cycle of negative feelings and then finding some form of comfort?”- there is no comfort in anxiety or in pain. Fear and pain are opposites of comfort. But there is comfort in a habit, whatever habit it may  be. If you are in the habit of “revisiting painful memories” (title of your thread), then you find comfort in that habit and you will keep revisiting painful memories.

    “It reminds me of what psychoanalysts say about recreating in our relationships the unresolved traumas we might have, in the hope it will not play out the same way”- here is an example: a child has a cold, unloving mother, and she tries hard to make her mother love her, unsuccessfully. Fast forward, the now woman is attracted to cold, unloving men and she tries to make them love her. The reason she is attracted to cold, unloving men is because as a child she’s been very attracted (I am referring to emotional attraction, not sexual attraction) to her mother. She was in the habit of being very attracted to a cold, unloving person. So.. habits tend to maintain themselves. And just like the child hoped her mother will change and love her, she hopes that any one cold and unloving man will change and love her.

    “So maybe I am craving for the suffering of unresolved issues and remaining and recreating a vicious circle”- the vicious circle, or vicious cycle maintains itself, you are not intentionally maintaining it, it is not something that you initiate.

    We operate like other animals- we are habitual animals. Unlike other animals, we have an elaborate language, the ability to think, write and read using a language but this doesn’t change the fact that fundamentally we operate just like other animals, through chemical habits, basically.

    But because we are able to think using an elaborate language, with useful guidance by others (reading, listening), we are able to do what other animals are not able to do: we can become aware of a habit and then initiate the long process of changing that habit.

    “Maybe I prefer my hurt and hopeless version”- no, no animal/ no human prefers hurt. The earliest and most primitive instinct of any and every living things is to avoid pain, to move away from pain, not to move toward pain.

    Problem is that we are creatures of habits, we operate via habits. So when the habit is vicious (“a vicious circle”), then we will maintain a vicious habit.

    Going back to the example I gave in this post- the child is not supposed to have a cold, unloving mother. Nature has not prepared for this possibility. The child is supposed to have a reasonably warm and loving mother and therefore form the habit of reaching out to warm and loving, or warm and kind people. It is a distortion of nature when a child is neglected or otherwise abused. Some or many distortion of nature create injuries.

    The good thing is that as humans we have the option to heal by identifying our early life injuries, the vicious habits formed as a result, and then intentionally, gradually, patiently with appropriate guidance- break those habits and heal.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by anita.
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