I’ve been thinking about those magical moments when we remember that we are okay.
What a relief!
As a coach, I spend my time with a wide range of people; younger, older, busy lives, curious minds, stuck, not stuck. Time and again I meet people who have experienced truly horrid events in their past – things I could only imagine perhaps.
We don’t particularly talk about these things because they feel so traumatic to the person, why would we want to spend time unpicking them again … unless of course they want to. My younger clients mostly do not choose to spend time talking about those events, incidents or people who are linked to their trauma. Often, they want to talk about how they can cope NOW.
Currently I’m working with a 12-year-old girl who has experienced sexual and physical abuse by key people in her life. During the first two sessions, she sat with her arms folded with her coat and backpack still on, as if she’s ready to flee. She most definitely does not want to unpick those events but the shadow of them lingers all day every day. She feels her past defines her; she is who she is because of them.
We have spent time exploring what is actually happening in this moment, right now.
There is only her and I, sitting in this room, chatting. No one else is present. No other past event is present. There is only us. So where are these past abuses in this moment?
They are memories, ghost thoughts; playing out like a movie reel in her head – on a constant loop. They are not here with us right now, although they do feel like they are.
Phew! For just a moment I could see her relax. Her shoulders dropped and her backpack slid down her back. Well, that’s not much to shout about, is it?
Yes, it’s huge!
If we are able to recognise, just for a nano second, that the past is not here defining who we are. We can drop into a quieter headspace and maybe even notice some other ways to see ourselves. Even just for a nano second. We can’t stop the movie reel of thought playing out, we can’t change it or only think positive thoughts.
The gift is to be aware of those ghost thoughts, those painful memories and the feeling and emotion that crashes in when we do. We can acknowledge them. We can recognise we are buying back into that movie in our head – knowing that the movie is not us, right now.
Phew! The relief in this moment feels tangible. Sometimes we can see physical changes when a client is feeling that relief. The face softens, the shoulders relax, maybe there are tears or laughter. It’s a precious thing.
Then the nano second passes and we can be sent straight back into the memory, the movie, once again. But you know what? That’s okay. Life can feel like a rollercoaster at times. We all drop in and out of our movie playing out all the time – and the movie reel constantly changes all the time.
But let’s not underestimate those nano seconds of Phew! They are priceless and, even better, they are always available to us. How great is that?!