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  • Writer's pictureAhly

Why do I keep repeating the past?

» How our Psyche replays a situation until the lesson is learned «

Life has a way of provoking us. The provoking moment is often a person or circumstance that disrupts our way of being and sense of Self. This can feel inconvenient and irksome at best, or a violation so profound that we are thrust into a perpetual neurological stress response of trauma.

For the moment, I want to pan out to the ‘law’ of healing that comes into play here. It goes like this:

Life, as it moves through us, has a healing impulse. 

Life is moving us towards wholeness and completion.

And in this, we can say that Life is presenting us with an opportunity to heal and to know our Self more fully.

This can be difficult to hear or believe, particularly in relation to trauma.

Yet if we hold to this truth of the healing impulse of Life, then Trauma can be seen as a mechanism; functioning as a massive disruptor that takes us out of our ability to respond to the moment. 

In Joseph Campbell’s rendition of the Hero’s Journey, initiations, or ordeals, have in times past been held and ritualised in context to life’s transitional stages, facilitated at the right time and by wise keepers of the tradition.

Trauma, on the other hand, says Joseph Campbell, is the initiatory experience perpetrated at the wrong place, at the wrong time by the wrong person.

Our life is disrupted to a point where we have to come up with a completely new way of being and sense of Self in order to find ease, or equanimity within our Self and the situation. 

This healing impulse of Life means that there is the possibility of growth after Trauma. But this growth needs a framework of understanding.

Otherwise we might despair that we are repeating the same situation over and over, and end up feeling the same disempowerment, or rage, or panic that first hit us when the trauma happened. 

In lieu of ceremony and context, some thread of this experience will keep repeating and playing out, largely because the psyche wants to transform. The soul wants us to be whole. We keep playing out these experiences until we find a possibility that unifies our sense of Self.

There is a healing impulse to resolve the trauma, and unconsciously we will try to relive the event in the hope of healing it. 

However this impulse can pull us quickly into more than we can handle at the time. This is when we get flooded by emotions; panic, terror, grief, rage…

At times like these, calling in our support team will help us to navigate our emotional rapids.

Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy can support you!

With the aid of therapy, we start to recognize the slippery slope that takes us into the trauma again - it's actually a vortex that happens where the seduction of trauma becomes a well-travelled road and we land back into the pain of it before we realise it.

So in our therapeutic space, while I'm offering you support and care in hearing your experience and how it was for you, we will pause and check in. It's important that we find that pause button and to orientate towards the counter-vortex that is present.

This counter-vortex can be an in-the-moment gesture or Part that shows up, offering your own Self the resourcing needed to 'get through' the painful experience. There is always a counter-vortex.

Take for example a Part that has "self-righteous anger" towards family and friends who failed in their duty of care and support. As we hang out with this Part, we may discover how it supports your experience, and we can start getting curious about its "job description" and "past history".

We may discover that this Part has a protective mechanism within it that is helping to create a healthy boundary with relationships that may not be aligned with our core values of care and support. And so it is providing the necessary energetic distance to discern if we want to continue putting energy into those relationships.

This Part is offering choice; to be in or out of relationship with someone who either does not share our core values, or does not have the skills to act on these values.

This Part is identifying what feels safe, and what is a threat. 

This part may also be able to discern if we are empowered in the relationship, or if we feel disempowered.

Fundamentally, this Part is alerting us to a choice.

And when we consciously choose what is most wholesome for us, we are in effect antidoting our initial trauma. 

The root cause of trauma is a formula of Threat + Disempowerment.

The antidote to this is Safety + Empowerment

So to notice the choice point, to discern your options and to choose what is safe and what is empowering is in itself a completion and a lesson learned.

That’s life.

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