Commitment to Stay in the Present

Trauma and unmet needs grapple with all of us and bring us back to memories of the past, where we felt vulnerable and hurt. Our brain stores difficult memories as a part of a survival mechanism, and even years later since the initial incident the unconscious sends signals that we are not safe.

We often use the expression ‘emotionally arrested’ to describe a condition of someone who lacks a certain level of emotional maturity. This word ‘arrested’ is right. Emotions that are not processed fully, which are not placed in a conscious relationship with ourselves arrest us.

They lock us in an interpretation and perspective of events that were made when we didn’t have a choice or could not have had access to the potential to see them differently. Trauma keeps each person in the past and deprives everyone of our ability to enter fully into the present moment. Dr. Gabor Mate describes this trauma as a form of injury that disconnects us from our essence.

Our authentic self is connected to the potential that lies in the present. Healing trauma is not about analyzing what has happened or trying to fix the past that we can’t ever go back to. Possibility for healing exists in the present moment. Thus, I now realize how focus needs to be given to stay in the present. For this, we need to be mindful, becoming aware of patterns emerging in a relationship and pay attention to the language of our body to be in touch with our own feeling.

When emotions come up, instead of immediately identifying ourselves with them, we can learn to observe and depersonalize the situation. In this, we have to bring a fine balance between being overly detached or emotionally attached to something or someone too deeply. Our knowledge about what happened in the past and how it is affecting us now helps us to not react and gain a certain distance.

In this space freed from impulses and emotions, a new horizon opens up. When we step into this uncharted field, true choice becomes possible. Possibilities that were thought of as never existing all of sudden become available.

We can start talking to parts of us who are still frightened and feel abandoned. We can now learn to teach ourselves how to process upset, anger and sadness – all emotions that have been suppressed, that are not integrated into our consciousness. By allowing these emotions to move freely, we can connect with parts of us that remain stagnated. We can assure the small child inside us that she or he is now safe and that what happened was something that occurred in the past and is no longer happening now.

I am now learning how our foremost responsibility in life is to learn to love this little child inside, to accompany him or her in both happy and challenging times. They are a way to our essence, helping us see multiple potentials that always exist and see events from our spirit’s eyes.

To do this requires our commitment to stay in the present. It is a real work, darn hard work! But, if each of us commits to it and keeps working on it, together we might have a greater chance to end the tyranny of the past and step into a new future imagined in our hearts.

Nozomi Hayase, Ph.D. a native of Japan is a columnist and essayist, whose writing and social activism is dedicated to liberation of all people. She has been covering issues of free speech, transparency and the vital role of whistleblowers and cryptocurrencies in strengthening civil society.

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