27 Jan How Something Random (a trigger) Can Set Back Your Mental Health
Many people believe that long lost childhood experiences have no bearing on their mental health as adults. I can’t count the number of times I have heard someone say that their childhood was fine and that they are “happy with what my parents taught me.” On the other hand, I can count on zero fingers the number of people who are completely happy with all their behavior.
In fact, more often than not, I hear from folks that there are plenty of things about their life they wish were different. People don’t understand why they cannot stop doing things they want to stop, cannot start doing things they want to start, or never finish things they began. People wonder where the depression they have came from, why they are getting panic attacks all of a sudden, why they blow up in anger, or why they are addicted to something.
The answers to these questions, and in fact the answers to most of the questions about our behaviors that defy logic, lie in the fact that as young children (0-6), we developed responses to confusing or painful experiences that we still use today when things trigger those difficult childhood times. It is important to understand that the experiences that hurt, confuse, frighten or terrorize a child do not have to be what we would consider horrific or terrifying from an adult perspective, just enough to cause a child emotional difficulty without sufficient support to handle it.
Unfortunately as adults, triggers are often hard to recognize for at least two reasons. First, there is usually no obvious logical link between events in every day adult life and difficult emotional experiences in childhood. And second, because difficult physical and emotional experiences from childhood are forgotten for a reason. They were very painful. We developed ways to cope with them (i.e. make them disappear from our consciousness) so that they would not hurt so much and so we could move forward in life like good little boys and girls.
So, fast forward 10, 30, 60 years. You are not functioning the way you want to be. You are suddenly (or chronically) behaving in a way you cannot seem to control. You are carrying painful emotional experiences that are invisible to you. As a result, random experiences in your current life can be memory triggers to those old experiences. Since you have been taught to overcome emotional difficulties with reason and logic, you are likely to characterize your symptom as an indication that there is something “wrong” with you.
Instead, try recognizing symptoms as an indication that the logic and reason you have used to “shelve” legitimate feelings has broken down, and that it is time for you to discover and express those feelings at an appropriate time and place, without fear of judgment or rejection. Therapy is one of those places. If you want to know more about therapy, my blog, How Long Does Therapy Take, might help you. And another one of my blogs, Bioenergetics, explains the kind of therapy that will help you quickly access feelings locked in your body.
If you would like to know more, give me a call. We’ll talk.