There are several themes that seem to repeat themselves with the clients I see. One of them is how we humans can keep our pain alive by rerunning our past in our heads.
I use different analogies to explain how we don’t have to do this. One of these is the Duck Story.
Have you ever seen 2 ducks fighting? After a time, they separate, flap their wings vigorously for a few minutes – and then they’re both peaceful. They don’t have a human mind that continues the story (of what the other duck did or said to me and how I’m never going to get close to that duck – or any other duck for that matter – again! That way I won’t ever have to feel this kind of pain).
No, the ducks just go on peacefully and meet each moment and situation as it arises.
Keeping the story going – thinking/repeating in our heads (what I call intellectual violence), is what causes the suffering. The body doesn’t know the difference between the actual event – or the memories/thoughts about the event – or a similar situation that FEELS like the original. So it reacts the same way when it senses those feelings of pain/shame/vulnerability. This is when we know we’ve been traumatized. If it’s strong enough, it doesn’t even have to be completely conscious for us to react to something or someone that reminds us of a painful experience.
Sometimes, we’ve held onto something so long, or it’s so ingrained into our system that we need professional help – like a therapist who practices a method such as EMDR (see my website for a short explanation of it) or some other form of trauma therapy.
But the lesson on how to prevent this with future events is to truly live in the moment, like the ducks. Put it out of your mind, forget the details, in order to get past the emotional hold. Make the choice to not let it take hold of you and run your life.
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is a choice.