You really did not plan to go there. But your mind seems to ‘go there’ more often than you want. Whether walking your dog, driving to work, reading a book, or even going to a professional sporting event, it seems your mind drifts there. First you find your mind ruminating in the ‘dark room’ of days gone by. Then you begin to say things to yourself that no one around you hears you saying (self-talk). Before you know it you are distracted mentally and feel ‘down’ emotionally.
If you find yourself in a mental ‘dark room’ and you don’t want to be there take the following words to heart.
When thinking about the past in your life there is ‘reality’. I believe most of us think to ourselves, “I know what happened. I know what you (someone in your life) did.” We think we have a pretty good handle on reality. But the fact is, we don’t. Reality is either the full picture that only God sees or the philosophical ‘complete picture’ that in your individual humanity you cannot see.
But you do have these memories of the past. Your ‘story’ is important. Don’t let anyone disregard you or tell you your story isn’t important. Your story and what you think and feel matters. But you will come to a wonderful crossroads in the healing of your memories when you discover that while your story is important, it isn’t the whole story. The information that we have is not complete. We have gaps in our information. Our knowledge is only partial. This helps reduce our sense of certainty and produce in us humility and grace.
So, here’s the deal. Our minds fill in these gaps in our knowledge. Our minds create the story we tell ourselves and others. Our story is always from our point of view. We see ourselves in a good light. Of course, we think we are right. We know what happened. Maybe we tell ourselves that we were the victim and the other person was the villain. Maybe we tell ourselves there is nothing we can do about it. We are helpless; we can’t do much of anything to change this.
We cast the other person in a negative light. We attribute to them something negative (technically called ‘fundamental attribution error) which may or may not be true. Again, our minds take what we know, fill in the gaps of our awareness and then create ‘our story’ which may be an ‘ugly story’ about the other person.
Are you following along with me? We started with the ‘dark room’ your mind and your emotions have dragged you into. And the issue for you is ‘how do I get out?’.
REALITY YOUR STORY
Now, add to your story, ‘the rest of the story’. The rest of the story includes the information from the gaps in your awareness. It is the story others involved could add. Chances are that the others in your story have moved on. Their minds don’t drag them into the dark room of the past. They’ve moved on. It is you who is struck in the story of your past. If they were to tell the rest of the story they would share information that would help fill in the gaps of your information. They would shed light on the event(s) or traumatic memory of which you are unaware. That is ‘the rest of the story’.
Yes, for sure, the story they would tell is biased. Yes, they would place themselves in the story in a good light. But it is only in adding your story to the rest of the story that the ‘real story’ can be discovered. It would take time and patience collaborating together to get to a fuller understanding of this story. However, very often those who’ve ‘moved on’ want nothing to do with going back to sort things out. So, there you are, left alone with the memory of your story and this memory drags you into a ‘dark room’ in you down in your mind and emotions.
Are you following along with me? We started with the ‘dark room’ your mind and emotions have dragged you into. And the issue for you is ‘how do I get out?’.
REALITY YOUR STORY THE REST OF THE STORY
I am a conflict coach and mediator in private practice as a marriage counselor. I meet with people week in and week out that get dragged into the dark room of emotional hurt. They find themselves stuck in memories they allow themselves to dredge up from the past. A composite of their experiences might look something like this. We’ve been meeting for months…they are stuck in a story they share over and again. The facts of this story seem so fresh and relevant to them. And when it dawns on me to ask them when this event occurred, turns out it was 10 years ago…28 years ago, etc. Nonetheless, they find themselves hung up on the reality of their hurt. How can they get past these memories and their hurt?
Are you following along with me? We started with the ‘dark room’ your mind and emotions have dragged you into. And the issue is ‘how do I get out?’.
REALITY YOUR STORY THE REST OF THE STORY PURGE THE STORY
I, too, struggle with letting go of the past. I believe the laundry room of relationships is forgiveness. But forgiveness does not mean you can forget. One of the best computers ever built sits on the top of your shoulders. Your mind remembers details, especially those burned into your memory through emotional trauma. Forgiveness is making a decision to view the debt as “paid in full”. Forgiveness is a decision to give up the right to ruminate on or retaliate for the wrong done. Forgiveness is burying the dead story tail and all and refusing to bring it up again either in your mind or in your conversations. That’s forgiveness.
I believe that the negative stories that drag us into the dark room of the past should have a ‘shelf life’. Stamped on every soft drink, on the meat from the deli, are ‘consume by” dates. It seems to me that the only chance we have to escape the ‘dark room’ of bad memories is to place a shelf life date on memories that have wounded us by which we let them go.
When I think of purging the story I think of walking under a waterfall and allowing my mind and emotions to be washed. I too struggle with purging the stories of the past. If you find yourself dragged into a memory ‘dark room’ — work at purging the ugly stories in your past.