The Choice After Trauma: Remember or Enact
We have all have had things in our past that we wish had not happened to us. When this is true, it is a temptation for us to actively not remember these things and hope that through this we can minimise its influence on us. We need to know that by doing this there may be a price to pay; we can either remember or enact.
What we do with troublesome memories
Memories that trouble us are not easy to deal with, and it is understandable that we wouldn't want to keep going over them. However, generally speaking, people have both a physical and psychological instinct to expel that which is troublesome. When you eat something which is unpleasant, you have a tendency to vomit or to spit out; similarly, when something psychological is uncomfortable within us we have a tendency to talk it out, and to do this we need to remember it. However, when the memories are too painful, we don't do this – we try and lock them away.
What we don't remember, we act out
The things that we don't remember and deal with we tend to act out. It isn't always true, but it can be quite a recognisable pattern. If we are treated badly and we don't deal with it, we can treat others badly. When we have been shamed and we don't deal with it we can tend to shame others. When we have been deceived and we don't deal with it we can be deceitful or distrusting of others. What we don't deal with comes out in behaviour. A friend use to say: ‘Say it straight or you'll show it crooked'.
Coming to terms with the past stops the acting out
The things from the past can be so hard to approach it can seem impossible to bring them back into our life – the irony, of course, is that they already influence us daily. With the right help it's possible to make progress to slowly come to terms with the things from the past and to stop consciously acting out the same behaviours in the present.
– Tim Hill
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