When you have experienced a traumatic event in your life, is it possible to completely erase this incident from your brain? Wouldn't it be miraculous if your mind worked like a video recorder and you could remove anything that has caused you psychological harm? Unfortunately, you don't have the option to erase your history, and the scars it leaves are part of you.
It is impossible to go through life without any pain or sorrow because it is all part of the human experience. In fact, you learn and grow from the things that happen to you. Good or bad, events in your life will shape you and make you the person you will become.
If you have problems from trauma that are not addressed, they can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other mental disorders. Your brain is permanently altered from past trauma and can affect you physically and emotionally. Is there a way to erase these troublesome memories and regain control of your life?
HOW DOES A TRAUMATIC EVENT AFFECT YOUR BRAIN?
The brain is a magnificent organ that has as much storage capacity as a computer system. Even when you were in your mother's womb, your brain perpetually processed stimuli and stored vital information. When you were a baby and later a child, your brain used these positive and negative experiences to form patterns of behavior.
These collective events triggered the formation of new neurons to determine their voluntary and involuntary responses. It is like entering a program on a computer to complete the day's tasks. Some things are innately wired for survival, while others depend on learning experiences.
When something traumatic happens to you or in your life, it can be difficult to process. Traumatic events shock the brain, and as a defense mechanism, your mind will quickly try to protect itself. These negative episodes create neurons and pathways in the brain that can cause psychological damage.
Many people experience trauma, have severe anxiety, depression, and develop personality disorders. The event alters the way the brain responds to things, both good and bad. Think of a river that has run over a rock for so long that it has cut indentations in that rock.
The rock changes forever because the current of the water has left its mark. Now if you try to make the water turn and flow in another way, it is almost impossible. Even if the water spins, the marks will never disappear. Although you may be able to change your life and go in the opposite direction, the marks will always stay with you that the trauma has left behind.
TYPES OF TRAUMA
When you consider trauma, you are not talking about the usual disappointments and painful inconveniences that occur in everyone's life. The trauma reaches far into your being and leaves an indelible mark on your memory bank. You can change your thinking and concepts of what you believe to be true.
Trauma exists in different forms and degrees, and not everyone processes these events in the same way. A traumatic event can be physical, such as a devastating illness or a tragic accident. It can be emotional distress induced by neglect or abuse.
Since some people are more resilient than others, the way everyone reacts to traumatic incidents varies. No matter the reaction, the brain will still try to process the event in its long-term memory bank. These memories can cause negative emotions and potential psychological damage.
TRAUMA, DISASSOCIATION AND MENTAL DISORDERS
Your brain has an extraordinary ability to go into self-preservation mode. Every time you are overwhelmed by trauma, your brain reacts instantly to protect your sanity. One of the best ways you can cope is by disassociation.
In a traumatic incident, the brain often hides and creates a false reality, called dissociation. To avoid physical and emotional pain, your mind can be detached from the event. You become an observer. This dissociative reaction can create the feeling that a person is leaving or withdrawing from their body.
Dissociation is an instinctive way of blocking trauma until it can be processed. While this initial reaction is beneficial, dissociation can cause psychological decline if it becomes a pattern. Using the philosophy "Out of sight, out of mind" is not a permanent solution to healing.
Often people who are traumatized dissociate, but the problem is that this coping mechanism can cause serious mental disorders. In severe cases, victims of trauma can develop dissociative personality disorder, or DID, which was previously known as multiple personality disorder.
It is also common for people who are traumatized to experience night terrors, depression, anxiety, and a host of debilitating side effects. For many, the trauma was so severe that they constantly relived the incident and developed post-traumatic stress disorder. This condition can seriously make life difficult for a person if left untreated.
With these disorders comes a shower of emotions ranging from grief, unbridled anger to apathy. Under these conditions, some people who were traumatized and abused as children often become abusers. Many try to ease the pain and resort to substance abuse, illegal drugs, or alcohol. Sadly, others contemplate suicide.
DEALING WITH PAST TRAUMA
Most people in this life experience at least one traumatic incident that brings deep pain. Perhaps the trauma was so devastating that you unconsciously label your life as pre-traumatic and post-traumatic. It may appear that you have lost your identity from the heartbreak of this event.
Have you survived a horrible event and continue to deal with its consequences? While you can't erase trauma from your memory banks, there are tools to deal with it.
1 - TALK TO A LICENSED COUNSELOR (COUNSELOR)
It is unfortunate that psychological problems continue to have a stigma in the 21st century. Were you taught to believe that going to counseling showed weakness and lack of faith in your spirituality? Holding on to these false beliefs can get in the way of the mental healing you deserve.
As a survivor of a past traumatic event, your ways of coping may be doing more harm than good. You can consciously block the incident from your memory, but it still remains in the shadows of your mind and will be disguised as emotional confusion.
Consider speaking with a licensed counselor who specializes in treating people who have been traumatized. Perhaps the thought of delving into your past seems too painful. The best way to begin healing is to confront your pain with the help of a professional.
2 - PUT YOUR TRAUMA INTO WORDS
This suggestion may seem overused and silly, but many people find comfort in writing down how they feel. It is often easier to express your feelings on paper than to speak them. It's up to you how you write and what you write, but many people keep a journal of their deepest secrets.
Sometimes you can sort out your feelings by writing a letter to someone and then burning it as a sign of liberation. Perhaps it is a person who traumatized you in the past who is now living or has passed away. Pour your heart into your writing and hold nothing back, and you don't need to mail it unless you want to too.
Even writing a letter to yourself can bring clarity to a past situation clouded by shock, grief, and pain. If you were traumatized as a child or youngster, consider writing a letter to yourself at that age, as if you were a mentor.
Extend unconditional love and acceptance of yourself in your writing. Above all, forgive yourself and realize that in many cases, you have nothing to do with the horrible event that happened to you.
FINAL THOUGHTS: GETTING BACK YOUR JOY
Most people have a preconceived notion that forgiveness erases past traumas and offenses. Forgiving and forgetting is not only a false concept, it is not humanly possible, save for insanity. Rather than viewing forgiveness as a rough draft, consider turning the page of the novel of your life.
You cannot forgive and rewrite the past, but you can stop allowing your trauma to define you. When you forgive someone who has traumatized you, you are not excusing or forgetting the break-in. Forgiveness is a tool that allows you to go beyond trauma and find joy in your life again. Here are some ways to win back the joy that was stolen from you:
-You can join a support group that helps people overcome traumatic events like the ones you have experienced.
-It would be great if you started a social media support group that focuses on healing and acceptance.
-Always make sure to communicate with other people in your area and establish contacts with locals.
-You should spend your time helping worthy charities for survivors.
-You can become an advocate and motivational speaker to overcome pain and trauma.
-Becoming a mentor to someone who is going through trauma can help you and them heal.
At the end of the day, the traumatic event that happened was a small fraction of your life. It's what you do before and after that counts. Once you learn to process the anger, pain, and grief of the event, you can move on to the rest of your life.