All the Baggage and the Old Wounds
When your father walked out on you, your siblings, and your mother, your life changed drastically. Now, decades later, it still lives on in your mind, as you remember how difficult things were, and how – about 15 months after he left – you caught a glimpse of him one day on the street in the company of another woman, much younger and less stressed-looking than your mother, who had a baby in her arms. Your father had just hugged her and kissed the baby, and you felt such agony. You also felt rage. And you remember it to this day. How could you forget how he affected all your lives?
When you found your high school love – the first girl you ever went to bed with – making out with your best buddy – you were both on the basketball team – something shrivelled up inside of you and died. With that one act she took away your self-esteem. It took you years to work your way out of that. And your best buddy. After a shoving match with him after having found the two of them there, you never spoke to him again. And you never found a friend again with whom you shared the way you used to with him – before you realized what a traitor he was. Even when you ran into that first girl friend again recently, now that you’re both in your forties and you saw how she had gained weight and lost her youthful sparkle and attraction, you felt no sense of satisfaction, only pain in the memory of what happened that devastating day.
When your wife left you, taking with her not only the kids, but also the silver and the antiques, you felt impotent with rage. When she furthermore got sole custody because that’s how the system works, you were beside yourself. And of course she also got alimony and child support. Whenever you think about that, you can still feel your blood boil.
Have you noticed the common thread that runs through each of these vignettes? You remember what happened with a great deal of emotion, almost as though you were reliving the painful incident. What’s new about that, you may ask. Of course I relive the painful moment. How else could I react? Do you expect me to forget it?
Not exactly. Although there is an element of forgetting it involved in what I am about to write.
Hanging on to the Old Memories – Hanging on For Dear Life
What I’d like you to think about is this: by remembering, by bringing it back into your mind over and over again – even though you only do it once a week or once a month – you maintain the freshness of the pain. Reliving a painful situation in your mind is tantamount to reliving it in reality … have you not noticed how the tears can flow again and again, or the red-hot anger can flare over and over … even though decades have passed?
Of course, you say, of course the tears flow or the anger flares. After all, what happened was very painful…Your Thoughts Attract
Let’s switch to another topic for a moment: you’ve read about The Law of Attraction, the power of intention, heard about the movie or book The Secret, etc. Maybe you’ve even read some of the multitude of books about the subject. If so, you know the insistence of all these authors on one central philosophy: what you think about becomes your reality … thoughts become things … as a man thinketh, so shall he be … and of course, all of these authors are encouraging you to imagine in your head, to visualize, or create scenarios in your head to the point where you can literally feel yourself inside of them, and feel the emotion or excitement that would be part of your life if your “scenario” were already a reality. They are basically stating that by so doing, that “scenario” you are so vividly imagining will eventually become a part of your life. That is the power of the law of attraction.
Here’s a verbatim excerpt from a previous article of mine:
The Importance of Forgiving & the Law of Attraction
Once you can forgive, the unfinished business from the past transforms into a mere memory that no longer carries any negative connotations to pull your power away from the present. It is at this point that you can begin to take cellular responsibility for yourself, i.e. you will no longer be harming your body in all senses of the word by keeping that negative power in the past.
Caroline Myss (from whose work I have borrowed the term cellular responsibility) pointed out almost a decade ago in 1999 in The Science of Medical Intuition, together with Dr. Norman Shealy, that it is also at this point that you can begin to create and manifest. In other words, no matter how much visualization and affirmation you are doing, those of you who have been vicariously reading everything you can get your hands on about the Law of Attraction or The Secret, you will not be able to create, until you pull your power into the present. Forgiving those who have trespassed you is one of the biggest steps towards that goal. Quotes about forgiving by Caroline Myss:
• By far the strongest poison to the human spirit is the inability to forgive oneself or another person. It disables a person’s emotional resources. The challenge is to refine our capacity to love others as well as ourselves and to develop the power of forgiveness.
• Forgiveness is no longer an option but a necessity for healing.
• One of the greatest struggles of the healing process is to forgive both yourself and others and to stop expending valuable energy on the past hurts.
• In order to heal oneself, we must learn how to forgive.
• Forgive and call back the energy wasted on past events.
• The act of forgiveness is the act of returning to present time. And that’s why when one has become a forgiving person, and has managed to let go of the past, what they’ve really done is they’ve shifted their relationship with time. (excerpted from Cellular Responsibility: Getting Your Power Back).
Choosing Your Thoughts – Choosing Your Feelings
Now let’s back track to our original subject. You reliving and remembering painful or traumatic experiences from the past to the point of physical manifestations such as tears of bursts of anger. Is that not the same as what I’ve just discussed in the previous paragraph, but in a negative version? You keep thinking about – visualizing – imagining – that event from the past to the point of making it a reality in your present life in the sense of how it affects you. In other words, it affects you as much as it might if it were actually happening now. So you have made it into a part of your current reality.
Is that what you want? Is that how you want to live your life?
Nothing stops you from hanging on to your anger or your pain, but only the decision to make new choices stops you from continuing on this desperate treadmill of pain. Making a new choice would be to say to yourself that for your sake, for your peace of mind, you will forgive whoever it was that treated you so badly, so that you can live a good life now. So that you no longer have to continue to relive the pain.
That is all it takes: a choice of dealing with the past differently. You decide, you choose, and your life changes. It is literally as simple as that. So when you get the old thoughts that lead you to the pain you literally say to them no, not today, thanks, I’ve got better stuff to do than to let you bother me again. Instead of you I’m going to think about what I want to accomplish, or I’m going to shift my energy or I’m going to focus on what is good in my life (even if it’s only the fresh, clean air where you live, or the lush vegetation, or the vibrant city about you, or the great libraries, or the football you can watch on TV). And by focusing on what is good in my life, I can begin to let go of the pain, I can begin to forgive, because from the place of feeling better, by re-focusing, I can understand that I don’t want to be in the place of pain, in the place where I hang on to all that hurt in the past. I know that the only reason it hurts now is because I am not letting go of it. So I choose to let go, to forgive, and to move on.
Do it for yourself, and not only you will benefit, but all those whose lives you touch.
Dr. Kortsch holds a doctorate in psychology and dedicates herself to integral coaching, clinical hypnotherapy, relationship coaching, and energy techniques. She is an author and professional speaker and broadcasts a live weekly radio show in English that is available on the Internet or for listening on her website, and has appeared in numerous television programs in English and Spanish. She can help you move towards greater personal and relationship success with her integral approach to life and offers training and workshops in the field of self-development and choosing responsibility for the self. Visit Advanced Personal Therapy.com and sign up for her cutting-edge newsletter in English or Spanish, or visit her blog for more timely articles.
This post is also available in: Spanish