Posts Tagged ‘traumatic events’

The Healing Power of Time Travel

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

I bet you didn’t know that time travel can be healing. But by the end of this post, you will.

Let me say here that I’m not talking about the time travel described in books like H.G. Wells’s book The Time Machine or Edward Page Mitchell’s The Clock That Went Backwards. In those books, there is a machine or a device that can take people forward or backwards in time.

To the best of my knowledge, clocks or machines that can do that don’t exist.

But you can still travel in time – in your mind. And as the title of this post says, you can use that ability to heal.

Here’s how: think about a traumatic or painful event in your life. It could be when you were diagnosed with your illness. It could be when a person, such as a parent or a sibling, or a pet that you loved, died. It could be when your family moved away from the neighborhood where all your friends lived.

Those kind of events can have negative effects on us for the rest of our lives, even if we don’t realize it. They can instill an unconscious fear that keeps us from going for what we want. They can also affect our health and cause or contribute to illnesses that may occur many years later.

One of the main reasons events like the one you remembered were so traumatic was that we rarely had the support we needed when they happened, and because we didn’t, we felt alone and abandoned even if our siblings and others were going through it with us.

But with time travel, as I like to call it, we can go back to the person we were back then, whether that was a little boy or girl, a teenager, a young adult, or even a middle aged or older adult. Because we were that person earlier in our lives, we know what she or he was feeling. By letting that person know we understand their fear and anxiety, by letting them know we are truly sorry, and by reassuring them that they will get through the experience okay, we can be a huge help in their healing process. And when traumas and pain from our past are healed, that helps us in our healing, both physical and emotional, today.

I encourage you to give time travel healing a try, and post a comment here about your experience.

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Tom Robinson is The Turnaround Coach for people with chronic illnesses. You can sign up for his free 7 day e-course, Learn How to Raise Your Energy and Your Spirit – and Say Goodbye to Feeling Hopeless and Depressed here.

A New Way to Use Three Important Words

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Four years ago, I wrote a post for my blog* in which I said that the words “I’m so sorry” were 3 of the most important words I had learned in my life. And I went on to explain why they were important, which was that there was a part of me that, because of having a chronic illness and having experienced many traumatic events in my life, was in a lot of emotional pain and needed to hear those words – from me.

I wrote about how I said them to myself in the mirror and how helpful that was, and that my clients found doing that very helpful too.

I recently got a video camera so that I can post videos online. As I was learning how to use it, it occurred to me that recording myself saying those three words, and then watching myself say them, could be a very powerful healing method. So I tried it, and found out it was.

Because I’m able to record myself with the camera, I have modified my technique. I made it a 3- step process, to take advantage of that capability. The first step was to record myself describing what is going on in my life; what’s going well, things I’m struggling with, and the positive and painful feelings I’ve been experiencing. This can be hard to do, but I have found it well worth doing.

The second step was to record myself being a wise, compassionate parent or mentor to myself. I acknowledged the part of me that is struggling and in pain and told him how sorry I was about what he is going through. Then I reminded that part of me about the good and wonderful qualities he has, reassured him, told him how much I loved him and let him know that I was there for him.

The final step was to watch the video. When I did, I sent lots of compassion to the person in the first part, the one who described what was going on in his life and what he was struggling with. And then I let in the compassion, the reassurance, and the love that the wise mentor in the second part of the video was giving to me.

Doing this has been very helpful for me, so I have started sharing it with my clients and others. I would love to hear how well it works for you.

*I’m So Sorry

Not being critical of yourself is a GOOD start

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Recently, when I suggested to a client that she give herself compassion because of the difficult challenges she was going through, she told me she was doing that. Then she explained that in spite of making a couple of mistakes, she wasn’t being hard on herself, getting down on herself, or calling herself names like “Stupid” or “Idiot.”

I was very glad to hear that. Many years ago, I used to talk that way to myself, but am glad to say I no longer do. Talking that way to ourselves is far too common, especially for those of us who had critical parents. If you do it, I strongly encourage you to stop.

In her book, How To Be Sick, Toni Bernhard writes about how she learned to stop doing that from a teacher at a spiritual retreat. The teacher described realizing that she would never talk that way to someone she cared about, and Toni saw that she wouldn’t even talk that way to a stranger. So they stopped!

Not talking harshly or critically to yourself is a good thing. Talking to yourself in an encouraging way is a good thing. Acknowledging your accomplishments and your special qualities and gifts to yourself is also a good thing to do.

But none of those are the same as giving yourself compassion. And I have found that giving ourselves compassion is one of the best, most effective things we can do to heal the emotional wounds we get when others say and do things that hurt us or upsetting or traumatic things happen to us.

At first, my client had a hard time giving herself compassion. Many people do. She’s a very productive person, with a demanding job, and she had a strong desire to “do something.” But giving yourself–or anyone else—compassion doesn’t require you to physically do anything.

Thinking about the way she was with her pets and the way they were with her was helpful, and since she knows a lot about the energy of the heart, my suggestion of giving herself “gentle heart energy” was very helpful.

It’s important for us to be good to ourselves and it is important that we not be critical of ourselves. But to heal our emotional wounds, what works much better than either of those is to give ourselves a great deal of  self compassion. I hope this helps you give yourself a lot more.

The Healing Power of Self-Compassion

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Of all the strategies I teach my clients to help them live well when they have a chronic illness, the one I teach the most is compassion. I teach it and reinforce it by having them wear their watch on the non-normal wrist and put notes on their bathroom mirror as reminders, and by assigning them the task of trying to give themselves an overdose of compassion every day – even though it’s not possible to do that! The reason I focus so much on that strategy is because I have found that it is one of the most healing things people can do.

I know, both from my own experience and from the experiences of my clients, that self-compassion can heal the emotional pain that almost always comes with having a chronic illness. Not only that, but I have seen people stop both migraines and herpes outbreaks by giving themselves compassion.  And while I can’t prove it, I’m convinced that giving myself compassion is the main reason I’m able to keep my Crohn’s disease in remission without drugs*.

But I’ve learned that self-compassion can do more than heal the emotional pain we’re feeling today; it can also heal the emotional pain we suffered when bad or traumatic things happened to us years ago.

Maybe you’re wondering how a person would use compassion that way or why they would want to. I’ll answer both questions with a true story of a client I had not too long ago. I had a sense that some emotional pain from Maria’s past was affecting her life, so in our telephone session I asked her some probing questions. I found out she was given up for adoption and also that her country went through a revolution when she was a child. It was clear that both of those events were scary and traumatic. I had her visualize the seven-year-old that she was, and then I had her compassionately comfort that little girl. When she did that, we both simultaneously felt a palpable healing energy. And the next time we talked, she told me that her insomnia of eight years had disappeared.

So how do you know when it would be helpful to heal emotional pain from the past? I can’t answer that question. However, I can tell you that my clients have benefited from 1) revisiting the following: car crashes, being diagnosed with an illness or an emotional illness, the death of a family member, getting fired or laid off from a job, the ending of a relationship, and similar events; and then 2)  giving the person they were at that time as much compassion as they could.

I have done the same thing for many similar events in my own life, and I know that doing so was healing because my memories of those events don’t have the same painful feelings associated with them they used to.

For both myself and my clients, self-compassion has helped us to heal a lot of our emotional pain. It can do the same for you.

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*As I recently wrote, I had flare of my Crohn’s disease at the beginning of March, but it ended on its own a week later, without my taking any drugs.