What to do When the Past Starts Sneaking In

So the other day I mentioned that I think about the good times and the bad times, but mostly the good memories are starting to sneak back into my mind about a past connection. I can talk about this openly because I share this information with nearly anyone who will listen. It’s important for people to understand that, just because you’ve left the situation, doesn’t mean you won’t sometimes miss it or yearn for the good that was there.

This is completely normal. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the brain’s way of protecting you so you can move forward to enjoy life without the deep feelings you once had when you experienced the super evil part of that situation.

I have moved on from the intense feelings of anger, heartbreak, upset, and whatever else I was feeling back on that day when I found the voice recorder and even more so, once I was free of the person who was causing my family such anxiety and angst. I looked back and realized so much of what I thought was love, was not. Not in a healthy life.

Love is so not everything that went down in that relationship from the start. Legit from day one my, back then, coworkers, were telling me to run quickly away. Why? Well, they were much older & wiser than me. They had experienced men like this and knew exactly where this was leading, but we all live and learn in our own way.

I wanted to give people the benefit of the doubt. In that first few months everything is so exciting and the reality doesn’t quite hit you until 1-2 years into it, depending on the type of person you are, and what personality you have, etc. My tolerance for humans was apparently pretty high back then and probably is still higher than most today.

I’ve also learned that boundaries are hard for me. It’s something I am working on so that I can continue to be stronger and more confident in most areas of my life. More on boundary setting in the future.

But anyhoo, today I wanted to share some ways I work through the thoughts when the memories start sneaking in. I can go back to any point in my past with this man at any point more so than anyone else of my past, I think because it was so fresh and I’m still working out the kinks of how to make better choices today so I don’t repeat the history.

I believe every experience I have is meant to either teach me a lesson or encourage me to continue making the right-for-me choices.

So, how do you handle past memories triggering thoughts or feelings today?

For me, the best place to start is practicing a little self-reflection. I am not kidding when I say I created my self-reflection workbook and guide from things that help me! It truly helps me on the hard days to reflect upon what my actual desires, goals, and feelings are.

Question 1 – What is this feeling and why?

The first question I evaluate is what is this feeling I am experiencing, and why is it coming up now. I take a moment to look around my current life, to see if perhaps something in the now is triggering an emotional or instinctual response that something is right or something isn’t right.

I then do my best to acknowledge the feeling, perhaps cry a little because I am a crier and do wear my emotions on my sleeve. I remind myself of the above information I shared, this helps remind me that while there is no “feeling” attached to the hurt and pain today, it was a very painful situation when it happened.

While I no longer feel the pain, I know logically that that situation is something that I recall never wanting to experience again.

So, while yes I figure out the feeling, sometimes it’s a nice feeling, I always go back to a mental reminder that I didn’t have a positive experience in that chapter. This is not to say I don’t believe in people changing, that’s exactly what I am talking about.

This self-reflective person who takes the time to evaluate where she’s going & to make choices that align with where she wants to be is growth for me. Just like I can experience growth, so too can other people. I’m just not the judge of that. Much like I need to reflect to make the right choices for my family, so too do other people.

One can only focus on their true self, not someone else’s path unless of course you’ve hired me to help you with goal setting as your coach, then I do get a bit more involved in the process as a guide.

Question 2 – What’s missing in the right now that has you feeling this way?

The next thing I evaluate when I start wondering about my life or have triggers of past memories, whatever they may be, is to analyze if anything is missing in my current life. What happened to cause this trigger to occur?

Sometimes you can think of past person or event simply by having their scent in the air, then other times it could be a reminder form your inner self that this isn’t aligning with your true vision in life. Another thing is that you’re simply human and our human brains are wired differently so perhaps this trigger of a memory is coming from nowhere. It’s just your brain’s way of saying, “remember when you were here, look at you now!”

Knowing what is causing the trigger, will help you to NOT GO BACKWARDS. The last thing you want to do is destroy everything in the today that you’ve worked so hard to have.

Whatever the reason, I am not going to say it’s easy to pull yourself back from these triggered moments. It’s hard. It’s harder when you can’t be honest with those around you that these triggers or memories are coming back. I’m grateful I have the support system to talk about these things. You should get a support system of non-judgmental people such as family, friends, and yes even a therapist.

These are all the different types of people I need in my corner to make sure I continue to make the right choices today for the future I want tomorrow.

Question 3 – What can I do to embrace these triggers or memories so that they don’t haunt me?

Last, but not least, one more thing I do to try to move forward when the past comes storming into my mind or heart is to ask myself what I can do in my life to simply embrace this memory. Often times these memories aren’t there telling you to go backward, they are there because you’re doing the hard work to move forward or you’ve pushed those feelings/memories deep down and now your soul is saying, “let’s work on these things, friend.”

I know sometimes these memories flood my brain because there are things missing in my current chapter that I do so desire to have. I don’t desire them every day though. I just think sometimes I would love a little excitement. The key is sometimes … not ALL the time.

And then I remind myself how much those types of things annoy me after a while. I remind myself how much of me I had to break to be in that past situation. I remember how I couldn’t have anything that was my success, it had to be theirs or “ours” and while I thought I was being kind sharing the success story, it’s not kindness.

You shouldn’t have to kill your success story because someone else has their issues.

The reason I am here is that I continue to make mistakes, and try to learn lessons from them. I am here living my life and doing my best to focus on the goals I have. One of those goals is to make sure I become the person I was trying to be prior to this season in life.

I must continue to remind myself that the memories of the past sneaking in, are completely normal, and they’re not a sign to put yourself back into danger.

These memories sneaking in are a sign to work on mending things that perhaps aren’t mended yet, and to make better choices today as you could be heading towards a similar situation albeit with different people and methods … so be sure to stop that memory gate for a moment, print this Self-Reflection Guide and go through the workbook exercises to figure out what you truly desire in this life.

Soon, you’ll find that those memories aren’t as painful or as frequent because you’re starting to practice the lessons you were being taught during that traumatic chapter. It’s important to note that you should always focus internally on you when these memories flood, as you can’t do a thing to help another person, they must do their hard work too.

It’s important to use the self-reflection guide to see perhaps what you’re still doing that you did back then that cause this chapter to occur. You may find nothing, but if you look deep enough, you will find at least one something that you can strengthen so that that type of scenario is never allowed again.

Final Thoughts

So, that’s how I handle those triggers that come up in my life when I am missing someone or something. I know that I’ve been through a lot in 40 years of life. I am learning so much about how I was raised to think, feel, and live both from my parents, my experiences, and my schooling.

Did you know we were born with a blank slate so to speak?! And then comes our parents helping teach us to talk, walk, and do all the human things so that we can get into the public school system, and have them mold us into what they want to mold us into. Then we set out into the world to be adults, but yet some of us aren’t fully prepared for that. I grew up fast, and I don’t regret anything in my life, sure there are things I am sad about that happened to me as a child and there are things I’ve done to hurt others that I am apologetic for, but we can’t go back to that clean slate.

We’ve been taught, we’ve been shown the light and the dark, yes we all have lightness and darkness within us. It’s human nature.

So what I am trying to say is that, all we can do is wake up one day and make a decision that “this isn’t working for me” and start slowly re-educating ourselves on how to live a life that we enjoy, love, and are proud of! Anyone can do it, but man it’s going to take some dedication and perhaps a really traumatic situation to wake you up to the reality that is THIS LIFE.

Sending love and light, may you find the time to reflect upon the choices you’re making and determine the life you desire is worthy of the time to invest in making it so.  

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