After meeting with over 60,000 patients in my career, I have learned a couple things about human patterns. I have seen patients who have had terrible and tragic events happen to them. And, I have seen from those tragic events come either one of two things.
Either the person overcame those traumas and used them to write a story of triumph over tragedy, or one of personal growth. Or, the person uses a different narrative- one of tragedy, defeat and then failure- which ultimately destroys their lives.
I know from personal experiences that emotional trauma can leave deep emotional scars and even deep-rooted subconscious beliefs.
For example, when my father passed away suddenly at the age of 54, I started to develop the idea that whatever goes up most come down, that all good things in life will at some point end in a tragedy.
This pain I experienced caused deep emotional patterns that were very hard to break and in my case, like so many, I didn’t even realize I had developed this pattern.
I never really allowed myself the joys of life. I started to experience more and more anxiety about life in general. I wasn’t fearful that I was going to die, but I believed that life in general was very hard and no matter what you think or do, at any moment it could all be taken from you.
It was hard for me to be present, to really enjoy life because I always felt the rug was going to be pulled out from under me at any time. This obviously is no way to live a happy fulfilling life, but what was tragic is that I didn’t even realize I had developed this pattern of irrational thinking.
And, research validates everything I experienced.
Research has shown that emotional and even physical traumas can negatively affect individuals for their entire life.
But in contrast we have also known of people who have had unimaginable traumas become the masters of their emotions and live fulfilling, abundantly happy lives.
What is the difference between these two groups of people?
I believe it’s two things: acknowledgement and belief.
First, we need to acknowledge that a trauma occurred and look at the ways it might affect us. Second, we need to adopt a belief that all things happen for a good reason and that traumas can be used as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Humans are different from animals in the respect we can truly analyze our emotions and create a narrative that helps us overcome many of our life’s traumas and bad emotional patterns. I am not suggesting that traumas don’t leave an emotional scar that will forever affect us, but if we buy into the idea that the traumas we have experienced will negatively affect us for the remainder of our lives, then it will.
And many times, like with me when my father passed, we don’t even realize how we have allowed the trauma to affect us negatively.
I always thought I did a good job with his death; I remained upbeat, I told everyone that I was so fortunate to have him as long as I did, that at least I got to be there with him when he passed, that he had moved on to a better world with no pain and suffering, and I would see him again in a better place. I wasn’t just saying these things, I was genuinely at peace with his passing.
But no matter what I told myself, there were scars that were left, and I didn’t even notice them until years had passed. I really had to take an inventory of what was holding me back from living a life where I felt secure and safe.
I didn’t realize that I had adopted a new perspective on life, one that had a tragic ending.
Nobody ever woke up one day and said “I think I am going to let the trauma of my father negatively affect me for the rest of my life.” But we should take some time to really ask ourselves, “how has this trauma or life event affected me and what can I do about it?”
You can either ignore your traumas and let your mind create whatever story it wants or you can chose to analyze the trauma and ask yourself: “what can be learned from this? And how can this help me improve?”
Traumas can be like the stone used to sharpen the knifes edge or they can be the instrument to beat up and dull the blade.
Traumas can be used to refine you, to build you and to empower you, or they can be used to victimize you, deflate you and imprison you.
It really is a choice, the glass is either half full or half empty- you decide.
However, you have to first realize that there is a glass that needs to be evaluated.
For many of the patients I have met with, I don’t think many of them have taken the time to really ask themselves how it is they view the world or what circumstances they have experienced that may affect their conscious or subconscious minds.
What traumas and events have shaped you?
What beliefs have you adopted that might be holding you back from living your best life possible?
Write about your experiences, write your story.
has shown us that personal reflective writing of 15 minutes a day can improve mood and outlook. Writing allows us an outlet for our emotions, it forces us to be mindful of the circumstances that have shaped our beliefs, our values and our person.
Writing can allow you to rewrite your story to one that cultivates you to becoming a better, happier human.
Everyone of us have a personal story that has shaped our view of the world and of ourselves.
Here is a brief exercise you can do if you feel something may be holding you back from living the life you want to live.
- Write down whatever it is that you are having troubles with at this time.
- For example; I don’t ever seem to have enough money. I am worried I won’t find true love. My relationship with my spouse sucks. I am having troubles making friends since I moved.
- Now write a new narrative from the viewpoint of someone who was an observer of your situation. What kind of encouragement or insight would they offer you?
- Money is a challenge for a lot of people but there are certain steps you can take to get in charge of your finances.
- Don’t focus on finding love but instead focus on loving yourself and others, meet new people, have fun, give of yourself and become the best version of yourself and the rest will follow.
- Relationships are hard, but the couples that make it work do everything in their power to strengthen their relationships and do what they can do to be the solution. My personal advice on relationships is to love unconditionally and watch what happens, if that doesn’t work repeat!!
- It takes time to make new friends. But to accelerate the process join some groups or clubs, be active, stay positive and lean on your old friends for a while. Some of my best friendships have been with people I haven’t physically seen in years.
Write your story, dive into your thoughts, look for any patterns and think about how you can rewrite your story.
I hope to continually inspire you towards greater health and well-being.
Yours in Health,
Josh Shields DC, CFMP
P.S.- Check out our article “Mantras for a Better Life” on the blog. I recommend you read this because I have several questions before each “mantra” that can provide you with some personal insight and objectiveness into your emotional patterns.