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Faith and Life: Create new memories to move beyond your past

April 20, 2012|By Kimberlie Zakarian

I have a career in which I have the blessing of helping those who have been wounded. Some have deep hurt that is of a physical nature. Others have emotional scars that hurt just as deeply.

Often, when we are wounded, our mind cannot stop the cycle of remembering, pondering and ruminating on past events. It can be difficult to move on, feel joy and simply stop the repetitive thoughts of past injuries.

These types of wounds, if formed at an early age, are literally hardwired into our brains. If they are from a trauma later in life, often Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sets in. The flashbacks, pain and memories that are literally felt -- “psychic pain” one theology book I read years ago called them -- and cannot be let go of. Thus, the individual suffers at a profound level.

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It seems I have had an influx of individuals suffering this specific type of pain lately. Something became clear to me while reading John Ramsey’s biography on his pain (at not only the loss of his daughter, but being wrongly accused, not in the court of law, but by the public for over a decade).  What became apparent is the idea that we must make new memories.

The importance of making new memories -- this is profound. Often, we get caught up on how things “should” have been or “could” have been: we should have been nurtured better as a child; we should not have had an alcoholic father beat us.

We could have watched our child more closely. We could have tried harder to keep our wife and avoid divorce.

We are often tortured by our memories.

These types of thoughts are addicting and once we entertain them, we can be hooked. Our mood or day can be ruined, we can end up feeling retraumatized, lack hope, or enter into depression. At the very least we can feel stuck.

Forcing ourselves to get out there and do things has been proven to not only lift depression, but make new memories. The very foundation for the psychological theory with the most empirical evidence as to its success is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

CBT helps individuals to recognize their thoughts and, or, thought patterns and begin to change them. CBT also has the idea at its core of getting up and taking part in life and activities.

When we find ourselves reminiscing about how we have been repeatedly traumatized in our life, it is possible to get so down or depressed that we just want to stay in bed, stay home, or lay on the couch rather than engaging in life.

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