We all keep some heavy memories within us which happened several years back, even from the age of our lives we barely remember. We were bullied by a classmate, got criticized by a family member or a teacher, maybe a stranger was rude to us. These bad experiences can leave marks on our personality which impacts the way we behave even in such a long distance of time. Here is a technique that can help you overcome negative experiences in your past.
The earlier we gain experiences in our lives, the deeper they impact our character as a grown up individual. Children do not differentiate between opinions and facts, and they do not select what to believe or not, especially if the information comes from an adult. Critical thinking develops by adulthood, before that we incorporate almost everything we hear without doubting into our growing mindset and our self-image. If a teacher tells a school student that he is a naughty kid he will accept this as his role and will start to look for opportunities to break the rules.
At the same time as a child we are all egocentric: we cannot think from another person’s perspective, and we interpret everything that others do or say from our own point of view. This is what happens when teenagers feel like everybody is looking at them or when they think their emotional experiences are unique and nobody understands them.
Luckily as we grow up we improve our social intelligence enough to understand the viewpoints of different people easier, and we can see beyond the words they say. The other good news is that by reliving your memories you can tap into your subconscious mind: If you change the meaning and the emotion attached to those memories, it will let you gain explanation about a piece of you and you can make those life events more positive.
For this you will need to get into a meditative state of mind, where you can let your thoughts flow freely without any interruption or disturbance. Find a place where you can be alone in silence or put on a peaceful music, close your eyes and relax your body…
Think of a situation in your past which left you with a negative emotion, the time you felt embarrassed, anxious, humiliated, angry or deeply disappointed by someone. Imagine this story in every detail, but this time as if you are watching a movie on a screen. You are not inside the room or the scene, you are solely observing this film –including yourself- as an outsider. Visualize every detail you can recall: What are these people wearing? How do they look? What is happening in the background? Try to replay the conversation in your head as much as you can.
Look at the small YOU, just like you would watch a childhood video of yourself. What does she feel? How does he react? What made you feel like that? Understand why you behaved in that way, and if you blame anything on yourself in that moment, let it go… Remember, you are a child who is just trying to do what is best based on the patterns you have seen around you.
Now look at the other person in that situation. Think of the words she said, the things he did to you. Try to figure out what could make this person do that to you? Did she have a bad intent at all? Was he jealous of you because of something he didn’t have? Could she be impatient, aggressive, angry because she dealt with something hard at that time or just had a bad day? What could this person feel? We often hurt people out of our own insecurity or unresolved negative emotions.
Forgive this person.
Regardless of having this person in your life now or not anymore, wish her happiness and peace.
During this thought process I have discovered that my classmate used to always bully me because she liked the same school boy I did that time. The teacher who scolded me for an anonymous hatred letter written to her was just misled, probably by the real writer, and her hard words were spoken out of the insecurity she felt by the criticism.
These are just small events, but the fact that I remembered them from an age I barely keep memories from shows the importance of resolving the cognitive conflict it generated. If you pick up some of these puzzle pieces you not only let go of your negative emotions, but you can understand better what made you the person you are today.