“You Can’t Reach For The Skies When Your Hands Are Full Of Yesterday’s Junk”-Louise Smith
Jerry, in last week’s story, had gone to see Darlene, a Life Coach, and Connie’s mom. He had thought he could manipulate Connie into allowing him to move in with her by getting Darlene on his side. But, it didn’t work out the way he had planned.
Jerry sat in Darlene’s waiting room for his second appointment. He wasn’t quite sure why he was there.
The door to Darlene’s office opened, “Jerry, come on in.”
Jerry walked slowly into the office, as if, he weren’t sure about this visit.
“I was surprised when I saw your name on my calendar for today. I didn’t think you’d be back,” Darlene said as they both took their seats.
Jerry’s Second Session
“When I left last week I didn’t think I’d be back. But, you touched on areas in my past and I couldn’t get them or what you said out of my mind. I do want to move forward with or without Connie in my life,” he said. “I think I need some help putting the past behind me if I can.”
“Jerry, how do you see that happening?”
“I’m continually hearing my dad’s voice berating me and telling me I’m no good. After thinking about it all week, I think the reason I wanted to move in with Connie was that she’s always been loving and kind. She never berated me or made me feel stupid like my dad does. But. I’m not sure that’s the right reason to move in.”
“I’m glad you came back,” Darlene said. “You are right. That’s not the right reason to move in. You need to be able to put the past behind you so you can enjoy a good, healthy relationship with Connie or someone else. When you are focused on the past, especially if it’s traumatic or hurtful, you can’t focus on the present or the future.”
“There are people who believe in holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” – Ann Landers
“I like to call the past hurts, junk. Junk from the past that clutters your mind and emotions. Everything that has happened to you did have an effect on you. Since your experiences were very traumatic, I’m sure they changed the course of your life. Would you agree with that?”
Jerry nodded, “I’d say it was traumatic. I can still see every event and hear every cruel berating statement that my dad made. Sometimes they just echo through my mind. Once I started beating my head against the wall trying to get the voice to stop.”
“I’d say the events you experienced were very traumatic. But, you can’t change the past. You can’t wipe the memories from your mind and you don’t want to. When a person has repressed memories, they may not remember the event, but the pain and trauma experienced still affects the individual. When least expected those memories or the wounded child reacts to the situation to protect the person. You don’t want to repress the memories, but you do want to deal with the memories and the hurts from them so you can move on and have a very successful life.”
“So, what do I need to do?” Jerry asked. “How can I stop all the stuff from cluttering up my mind. Sometimes it really gets to be too much.”
“The first thing is to learn how to let go of the hurts, yesterday’s junk, so you can move on. You can’t change what happened in the past. But, what you are experiencing are the emotions in the present, not in the past. You are also experiencing your critical inner voice, which is also in the present. The anger, embarrassment, pain are all emotions that you are experiencing now, in the present. The first step is to change your focus. Focus on the present. Feel your feelings right now.”
“So you’re saying to stop thinking about the past and focus on the present? But how do I stop all the critical comments that go on in my head, sometimes, all the time?”
“We’ll get there. First, let’s look at your memories. They are just thoughts. They don’t have any power or meaning unless you give it to them,” Darlene continued.
“How do I give my thoughts power?” Jerry asked.
“Let’s look at the thoughts for a moment. Some are sticky. Sticky thoughts have emotions attached to them. Whenever a sticky thought pops into your mind you feel the emotion that is attached causing the thought to stay in your mind, causing you to think about it over and over. Most sticky thoughts have core beliefs attached to them. For example, when your dad would beat you and berate you, you developed the belief that he was right, ‘you can’t do anything right.’”
“When a sticky thought becomes stuck in your mind it’s because you have a belief attached to the emotion you are feeling. Your critical inner voice then picks up the belief, “you can’t do anything right,” and repeats it back to you over and over and over again.”
“Yeah, that’s basically what happens. Once the voice starts in it can go on for hours,” Jerry said. “So, how do I get rid of the sticky thought?”
Do The Opposite
“You need to lose interest in the sticky thoughts. One of the best ways is to Do The Opposite. When a sticky thought pops into your mind with the critical inner voice, begin telling yourself the opposite. So, if sticky thought is that “you can’t do anything right,” change it. Say something like, “I can do a lot of things right like being a DJ. I’m a very good DJ. People like it when I’m the DJ. So basically, you lose interest in the sticky thought and replace it with the opposite. The more you say it the less power the sticky thought has until you’ll notice it doesn’t come up very often.”
“I’m beginning to understand.”
“Healing takes place when you let go of the thoughts, beliefs, and feelings so they no longer impact you in the present. When you learn how to Do The Opposite the past loses its power over you. The event is still in your memory, but it no longer has the mean, effect or power.”
“Let me get this. You are saying that if I repeat the opposite over and over it causes the sticky thought to go away?”
“Actually, it can change the sticky thought, getting rid of yesterday’s junk. The sticky that was a put-down, but you exchange it for a positive thought about yourself. Repetition is funny. I had a professor that told us about a camping trip that she and some friends took. One friend couldn’t go. The friend that couldn’t go was a real Patrick Swayze fan. While sitting around the campfire they cooked up this story of Patrick coming to their campsite. They had all the details worked out so everyone had exactly the same story. When they got home they told their friend about Patrick coming to their camp. The friend was so jealous because she hadn’t been there. This story was repeated over and over and over among the friends. A year or so later, in a totally different setting, someone mentioned Patrick Swayze and the professor launched into the story they had cooked up. She got almost through the story and stopped, looking at the other person, telling them what really happened. She told us in class that she had repeated it so many times that she actually began to believe it.”
“So if you repeat the opposite enough it will begin to replace the sticky thought?” Jerry asked.
“Absolutely. You can’t make yourself forget the experience. It often creates more problems, like addictions, if you try to stuff or ignore your feelings. The old saying is that ‘Time heals all wounds,’ but it rarely works that way. You can’t change what happened, but you can change your reaction to it by doing the opposite.”
Affirmations – Renewing Your Mind
“The positive things, The Opposites, are affirmations which plant thoughts in your subconscious mind. You can plant negative thoughts in your mind, which is what happened during childhood. In doing the opposite you are exchanging the negative thoughts for positive ones.”
“Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23 tells us to “Be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” Repeating positive affirmations is how you renew your mind. Many people use Bible verses as affirmations. Make the Bible verses personal.”
“I AM come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly.” –John 10:10
“It is the Father’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom.”–Mathew 12:32
“I walk in love as Christ loved me and gave Himself up for me, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for me so that it became] a sweet fragrance.” Ephesians 5:2
“When I walk in love God is present.” 1 John 4:12
“Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me”. Psalm 23:4
“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the refuge and stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
Write It Down
“It also helps to write down your feelings about the past. In school, we learned a method of processing feelings that is quite effective. Write down everything you can think of about the event and how you felt. Then burn the paper in a fireplace or bonfire. It’s very releasing to watch the event, the experience, and the feelings go up in smoke. Others prefer to keep a journal. Still, others write the person a letter but don’t send it. Put it away or burn it.”
Jerry sat quietly for several moments.
“What are you thinking?” Darlene asked.
“I’ve listened to all the things you’ve said. I feel calm like this is something I can do. I think I can be free from the abuse and ridicule.”