"Know your worth. Know when you`ve had enough. And choose to move on from people who chip away at your happinness."
Do you know these moments when you got out of a toxic relationship, hostile job environment, or painful past, and first feel liberated and free, but then some part of you seems to miss this past experience? You start to think of the good moments? What the people have done for you? Why this past experience might be even the best that has happened in your life? Then you are not alone! Let me tell you that I have had all these flashbacks and am now determined to find out what this is all about!
Generally, it is a good thing if you can appreciate the good moments or the gifts, opportunities, learnings from painful past experiences. In case you are a student of Gary Zukav`s "The Seat of the Soul", then you may have learned about our soul'`s karma and experiences to balance each other`s energies. Even if you don`t buy into spiritual teachings, you may agree with me that it is healthier, relieving, and more natural to our being to forgive and let go of the past, rather than resenting (and by this resisting) what has already happened. I know that even if you agree, you may have also experienced that it can be quite hard to not blame people and circumstances for your current life situation. So let`s dive into three ways to deal with painful past experiences, esp. when positive flashbacks make you wonder:
1. Acknowledge what is happening
Whether you have positive or negative flashbacks, practice your mindfulness muscle and as a first step, just notice what is going on. Don`t judge yourself either way - meaning when you fall back into resentments or victimized feelings, just observe the sensations in your body. Similarly, in case you see positive flashbacks, don`t judge yourself if you feel a sense of missing the past or wonder whether it is a sign of weakness (it is not) or have not moved on as you wished. We are all human and sometimes, when something falls apart, often there is a sudden overwhelming pain, that we unconsciously shift this away or deal with it only in pieces. I know this from my painful heartbreak - even years afterwards, tears would come if I allowed them. But I knew enough that this wasn`t something to be judged for, everyone has their own mechanisms and pace, and this was just my own coping mechanism.
2. Seeing positive flashbacks can be a sign that you see the good in the past, but can be also an opportunity to ask yourself "What is behind this image that I currently need? What do I need?"
When I saw positive flashbacks from my heartbreak, one part of me naturally missed him, wanted to be back with him, wondered what he was now up to. I didn´t resist or judge (whenever possible), I allowed all this to be, but I also didn`t interpret too much in it. For me, it didn`t mean that I wanted to be back together with him, although I could sense this feeling in me - I understood myself enough that I didn`t feel strongly attracted to him, nor were there any real good and convincing reasons to have him in my life. So I wondered - with the help of my coach - what was this all about? Have I progressed in my healing that I now can see the good in him and our past? Am I still not over it? Do I still have to work on it? And I realized that it was me opening up again, for a romantic relationship, for a partner in my life, esp. after this painful experience - my yearning that got sort of revitalized was in a topic that I so far have associated with my past heartbreak, so seeing him in my flashbacks may not mean that I miss him, but more the feeling of togetherness, intimacy, a romantic partnership.
3. Recall your values to re-assess how they are now honoured compared to the past
What also helps to put things into context was to remind myself why my heartbreak guy wasn`t only a match for me, but also not a good person for me to be around. Throughout our entire dating relationship, the feelings that were most dominant in me were self-doubts, doubts about us, insecurity, unworthiness, judgments. And yes, back then, I was not my most confident, wisest, and nourished person in myself, but I know from other people during the same time, that they have not all left me feeling "less than". He was also a kind of playboy, focussed on material status, and, in retrospect, not really authentic - like people would even tell me that they all didn`t know who he really was! Clearly, he was absorbed in creating this huge self-image that exceeded his true confidence, treating esp. women as objects, something to show off and upgrade himself. Even when I write this, I don`t mean it judgmentally, knowing that it may sound like it. I have grown a lot of compassion for him - knowing that his past and environment has led him to this lifestyle. I know that he is hurt, too, deep within, but being compassionate with him doesn`t mean to bring him back into my life, if this doesn`t serve my wellbeing. And yes, maybe he has changed, but for a relationship to revitalize again, it needs two people, and so far, I have not heard back from him after my last message. And here comes the spiritual angle again - that we can trust the flow of life, our resources to heal, and we can see every flashback as an invitation to choose love, for them and ourselves.
Love, from me to you,
How have you deal with flashbacks? Let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – I very look forward to hearing from you! :) PS: Subscribe to my #mindfulmagic Newsletter to stay in touch for upcoming posts, free offers, and news :)
Reflection: What do I need, what is serving me?
Intention: I observe my flashbacks with mindful compassion and choose love for myself and others.
Viet Linh Le is a female visionary, qualified coach with corporate experience, and multi-cultural lover of life, with the mission to change our world by coaching the next-generation decision-makers. Find out more on www.vietlinhle.com