Are you living your life based on your past or moving through each day feeling like a victim? Perhaps it's time to make amends with your past and live the life you want?
For some of us, the past experiences we have endured can be carried with us each and every day- impacting ability to move forward and live the life we always wanted or envisioned. A traumatic past can leave a deep scar and create fear for our future and the decisions we make for ourselves. By learning to develop acceptance of past experiences, we develop the opportunity for growth in success with a way of living, relationships, and even personal value.
It can be very difficult to muster up the faith to find acceptance from a negative past because it can sometimes help remind us of what might happen if/when we are faced with the potential to fall victim again. Imagine a life of being able to make decisions without so much fear- what would that open up for you? How would life be different if fear were put on a shelf for a bit in order to nurture the person you dream of being in life?
All too often we hear people say, “Just get over it and move on, why can't you just let go of things?” Those words can feel hurtful and can leave one feeling misunderstood and not validated. Sometimes holding onto the past is actually a form of protecting ourselves from ever being hurt again. Unfortunately, that also tends to be what holds us back from moving forward. We end up living with the expectation that certain situations will most definitely cause us to feel hurt all over again- so naturally we learn avoidance. Over time, avoidance can become toxic and keep us paralyzed in such a state that we feel helpless and ultimately hopeless. If you tend to find yourself thinking and dreaming about the life you wish you had, perhaps you are holding your own self back from creating an enriching future.
“But ACCEPTANCE means I forgive the things that happened in my past!” Not necessarily true. Many of us have learned that in order to develop and grow in life we have to forgive those people and things that have happened to us in order to move forward and see any healing happen. For some, it takes a great deal of strength to allow forgiveness in our hearts. Trauma in itself more than likely means something happened by which we were wronged in life- especially when it was at the hands of one or a group of people or even an entity (such as a company.) It was a situation or event that left us feeling helpless and even hopeless- perhaps because we felt we were one small voice against many.
Much like the stages of grief, it can be easy to be stuck in a state of anger or sadness for a long time, and even a lifetime. Without proper support, it can be challenging to understand how to differentiate between acceptance and forgiveness because of how we may have been conditioned to believe the two go hand-in-hand. It will take a bit of strength and self-exploration to find that fine line in order to see it more clearly.
What can you do to develop acceptance? It can be simple but also quite complicated. Some ways you can begin to take a new perspective is by acknowledging the event or situation and, as painful as it may be, recognize the ways in which you became a victim. Moving forward may require you to try changing your perspective on the event by understanding that this trauma does not need to define who you are.
In situations where we have been victimized, it leaves a great feeling of powerlessness. After experiencing trauma, we might identify with that powerlessness and allow it to grow, like branches and roots from a tree, reaching into unrelated areas of our lives- persuading us to believe that anything we do will leave us powerless. This pain you carry may never completely go away as it has likely become ingrained in defining yourself- but you can become stronger the more you work on gaining your power and strength again. One of the harder aspects of facing that powerless feeling is the ability to see the choices you have- such as making the decision to no longer live as a victim. Again, this may take time- and an enormous amount of patience in the healing process.
Working with a professional who specializes in trauma is one way to start. There are several different therapeutic pathways to follow. Some of the more significant techniques and models, that are evidence-based, are working with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, as well as practicing mindfulness. In order to see greater success it may be helpful to include alternative therapies, such as Yoga, meditation, massage therapy, and homeopathic approaches like aromatherapy.
Consider using Art Therapy, as a number of case studies and articles have been shown it to improve greater outcomes in the healing process:
Military PTSD and Art Therapy
How Art Therapy Supports Trauma Recovery
The Effectiveness of Art Therapy Interventions in Reducing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms in Pediatric Trauma Patients
Creative Pathways Art Therapy is devoted to helping individuals face their struggles in a supportive and gentle way. If you are considering therapy options, Art Therapy may help you achieve your personal goals and develop in-depth solutions. If you would like to learn more, please contact us today to determine how we can help.
Sheilagh is an Artist and Art Therapist who believes in healing with art and creativity.