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How to Live Fully In the Present When Past is Still Present

Prabhleen Gupta

Prabhleen Gupta

Founder-Personal Mastery

How to Live Fully
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Some people think that reviewing the past is a waste of time and only focusing on the present is important. Many times this reasoning stems from the fear of pain caused by remembering that past. This flight forward produces precisely the opposite effect of what it is intended to achieve, to be happy today, at this moment.  A metaphor illustrating this mechanism would be as if an allergic to dust is putting all the dirt under the carpet to not see it and pretend that it is not there.

There is no doubt that the past no longer exists, but for better or for worse, what you currently are, you owe to your past.  All the decisions you have made, each path you have left behind and each experience you have lived have made you the person you are today. Some situations have led to valuable learning, but other events have likely hurt you and continue to determine your behaviour, even if you are not fully aware of them since your brain stores your emotional experience.

On other occasions, the problem does not lie in traumatic experiences but in the beliefs you acquired during childhood that does not allow you to move forward.  That is why it is so crucial that you look back, review your past and free yourself of the burden that both unresolved problems and limiting beliefs represent. This way, you can focus on living in the present, having freed yourself from the burden of the past.

Indeed, you cannot change the past, many of the decisions you have made have no turning back, and you do not have the power to erase the experiences you have already lived. However,  you can change your vision of these events. You can make them stop causing harm to you, and above all, you can prevent them from becoming an obstacle that prevents you from moving forward.

On many occasions, when you have a harrowing experience, your emotions take over and make it difficult to think clearly. This emotional blockage prevents you from analyzing the situation objectively. It is as if you erase all the possible positive aspects with a stroke of the pen, making you focus only on the negative ones, which triggers feelings of helplessness, anger and sadness.

In some cases, when you feel that the situation is overwhelming you, you are simply unable to accept it, and that memory continues to generate negative emotions that condition the relationships you establish with others or yourself. As a result,  self-esteem problems and deep resentment appear.

In fact, when you fail to internalize the consequences of certain decisions or certain situations, the past comes back again and again, but it does not always do so through memory. Instead, it takes the form of fears, insecurities and recriminations. They are the emotional wounds that your brain has not yet healed.

I think it is worth spending some time (short, since psychologists already have very powerful techniques that produce rapid changes) to “clean emotional garbage” from our brain, precisely to be able to concentrate on this present without the burden of the past.

Understand that I am not talking about indulging in pain being beneficial. There is no use simply “thinking about what happened.” To heal the past, you have to work with specific psychological techniques to heal emotional wounds.

How to heal the past so that it does not harm us?

Psychotherapeutic work is essential to healing the past and detecting traumatic experiences or inherited beliefs that lacerate us. The main objective of this type of therapy is to work on the experiences that are limiting you in the present, either consciously or unconsciously, to be able to accept them, both from the point of view of rational view as emotional. This way, they will stop limiting your future.

Remember that the important thing is not what happened but how you live it now. The past no longer exists. What lasts is the memory that your brain keeps, which, thanks to research, we know is never reliable. Therefore,  it is not about erasing the event from your mind, but that you can integrate it in another way so that it does not harm you. As our body heals wounds so that they do not hurt, our brain also allows us to “reprocess” emotional pain.

There are different techniques to heal emotional wounds and heal the past, including clinical hypnosis. Through a special process called “regression”, the psychologist will be able to access your unconscious mind to discover the damaging contents. Once the memory is detected, you can focus on modifying your perception of what happened and changing the negative emotional memories associated with that event. In particular, Ericksonian hypnosis is another way to work from very effective hypnosis to change inherited limiting beliefs and free oneself from received conditioning.

Another particularly effective technique for dealing with trauma is EMDR. Through bilateral stimulation, the brain receives the help it needs to process the event in question and archive it while stripping it of its negative charge. In addition, in many cases, the person even manages to remember positive events associated with the possibility they could not perceive before.

Another therapeutic alternative to deal with the past is mindfulness, a technique through which full awareness is enhanced, and processing is stimulated at the level of the subcortical layers. This way, you can take on the emotional experience and, at the same time, free yourself from its negative impact.

The use of one or the other technique should be evaluated considering the characteristics of the patient and the problems they present, and their preferences.

 

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