Trauma breeds emotions, and unless we process these emotions at the time of the traumatic event, these emotions stick with us and slowly but constantly attack our mind and body. The healthy processing of stressful emotions such as sadness, fear, and shame, is crucial to moving on from a traumatic past.
Start by looking back on a small trauma you may have experienced in the past that is still affecting you in the present. Practice this short exercise developed by psychologist Andrea Brandt, author of the book Mindful Aging, to help you heal from your childhood emotional wounds.
Find a quiet place where you can be undisturbed. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Take deep breaths, until you become fully aware of your body. Once you feel centered and present in the here and now, move on to the next step.
Process any recent event in your life that upset you and what about that event provoked a mild to strong emotional response. Replay what happened as detailed as possible and imagine yourself back in that place and time. Once emotions start to resurge, go to step 3.
Continue to mindfully breathe deeply, and spend a few moments in a relaxed state. Mentally scan your body for any physiological responses – tightness, tingling, palpitations, etc. These sensations give a peek into understanding your traumatic past experiences. Freely explore these sensations and describe them to yourself in as much detail as possible.
Call out your emotions for what they really are. Is your chest tightness anxiety? Is the tingling in your fingers fear? Is the burning heat in your chest anger? Name your emotions and it will help you understand yourself better.
Part of moving on from a traumatic past is to fully accept everything that we feel. Practice saying, “I love myself for feeling (sad, angry, anxious, fearful, etc.)” Do this with every emotion you feel. Embrace your humanity and love yourself for it.
Read the full article by Dr. Andrea Brandt on Psychology Today for the complete step-by-step process to help you on the right path to move on from a traumatic past.