“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” ~ Louisa May Alcott
Journaling about personal trauma and painful memories is immensely healing. The physical act of writing is a form of release in itself; putting a painful memory down on paper is akin to pulling it from the darkness and opening it up to the light. You can see the event and how it affected you more clearly, and gain insight into ways it is continuing to affect you today.
But there is danger in re-opening old wounds. Events that are buried deep in your subconscious are hidden there with good reason. Perhaps you were too young to grasp their full meaning when they occurred, or you lacked the coping skills necessary to process them. Some events are so frightening or painful that your conscious mind simply denies that they happened at all. Although modern research methods have yet to catch up to the intricacies of how our minds work, one thing we know with certainty is that the mind is as adept at defending itself as the body, with at least as many complex defenses in place to protect it from real or perceived threats.
So how do you know if you are ready to open yourself up to the past? Just pay attention to what is going on in your life today.
Try asking yourself these questions–
- Do you feel as if your life is in a state of flux?
- Are you confused about your motivations or uncertain of your goals?
- Do you feel as if your important relationships are unraveling?
- Are you feeling disappointed in yourself or someone close to you?
- Are you having trouble communicating? Does it feel as if no one understands what you are saying?
- Have you been plagued by illness, self-doubt, unexplained sadness or unanswered questions?
- Is your sleep restless or your appetite poor?
If you answered “yes” to even a few of these, you may rest assured that what you are feeling is the power of your unconscious mind moving you from your place of comfort and complacency towards new learning and growth. All living things move naturally towards healing, and your unconscious mind is telling you where to go. Listen to it. It already has all the wisdom you need to succeed.
Write in your journal about the question or questions, above, to which you answered “yes.” Choose the single issue that troubles you most and write about it first, developing all the insights you can about that problem before moving on to the next. For example, if you feel no one understands you, why do you think that? Are you holding yourself back from communicating effectively? Are you expecting others to know what you are feeling without telling them what is going on? Have you surrounded yourself with people who lack empathy and compassion? Keep asking yourself questions until you find the deeper meaning to what is troubling you. This is the first step in healing personal trauma and find the path the healing and self worth.
“Simply touching a difficult memory with some slight willingness to heal begins to soften the holding and tension around it.” ~Stephen Levine