Therapeutic timelines: The effects of a traumatic past and working towards a better future

Updated: May 20, 2021

When I started to write this, my main motivation was thinking about my own trauma. When I was 25, I lost my father to suicide and the road to recovery was not an easy one. I considered the challenges I faced and the difficulties that those challenges presented. I also considered the issues that my clients have presented in sessions over the years, and some of the running themes which occurred during therapy for those who have also suffered with traumatic events in their lives. I realise everyone is different, but here are a few things I learned along the way.

Looking at the past, present and future can sometimes be daunting especially if we have suffered with trauma. When we have a traumatic past, this affects the present and what we do in the present can play a part in how the future unfolds. Thinking about it like this can bring up anxious thoughts and lead to feelings of panic and patterns of avoidance.

The truth is, by understanding the past and working with it, this can lead to healing in the present and thus has the makings of a better view of our future.

When it comes to trauma, sometimes we relive it over and over. The difficulty here is, it can never be changed but this repetition can cause it to become distorted. Of course, this does not stop the current pain that is carried in the present. It may feel as though it is stuck on a never ending loop and its difficult to step out of that loop.

When we read a book, we do not get stuck on one page and reread it over and over. We do not refuse to turn the page to see what is going to happen next in the story. When it comes to a book, we turn page after page to see how it unfolds. I get it, the difference is a book is just a story, but your pain is YOUR story, and you feel it more deeply.

So, when it comes to our own lives, we stay on that one page, reading it over and over again.

The pain then starts to feel like “this is the norm”. So, what is the reason we don’t turn the page? Fear. Fear of feeling, fear of anxiety, fear of what comes next. The thing is, if you don't turn that page, you are trapped in the loop. Remember, YOU are the author of your story. You control how it turns out.

When an actual author writes a really good compelling book, they seek the help to evolve it, they do this with in-depth research and questioning. The chances are a good novel has trauma, pain, and sadness but they also have the good parts too. When it comes to our lives, as human beings we tend to forget the good parts because the bad is overpowering. Its like throwing all your thoughts, both conscious and unconscious into a sieve, trauma gives it a shake and the good stuff filters through the holes and is forgotten and the bad stuff stays on the surface. What makes this worse is, it feels as though its all under a microscope too. With this mindset, it affects how we feel, how we behave and the decisions we make.

So, the question is this, if you do not ask the questions or seek the help, how can your story evolve?

One day someone is going to ask you about your story, it could be your children, grandchildren or even a random stranger. What do you want it to say? There’s still time to make your story a good one. The future is still unwritten. We can predict it to be bad and unconsciously we would make it so with the decisions made by that mindset, but what if it did not have to be? What if it could be so much better? What’s stopping you? Conquer the fear, instead of it conquering you.

The Past

Can only be viewed, never changed. Sometimes becomes distorted.

The Present

Can be affected by the past and can affect how the future unfolds. (This is where change occurs, it’s never too late)

The Future

Completely unwritten. You control how this turns out for you personally. It takes courage to confront it, faith in your ability to heal and hope of a better future, all of which you have the power to tap in to.

Let your positive mind thrive and shake the sieve to filter out the bad and bring the good into focus.

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