My daughter Gala has sent to me a link to an article: “20 Things That Mentally Strong People Don’t Do”. It is a logical continuation of our conversation on the subject of how to treat bad feelings hidden in the past. It is a subject of crucial importance for mental health in humans, and I had to write a few words on it.
The article says:
“Mentally strong individuals focus on the present moment and on the near future. They understand that the past is out of our control and the far future is about as predictable as the weather this winter.”
At the first glance it is a logical claim. Nobody can survive dwelling on the past all the time. Everywhere, from popular opinion to literature and poetry, we can learn the same: «Don’t dwell on the past». The ”good” will win over the ”bad”. Think positively, seize the moment, and go on with your life! Science and the pharmacology industry give a massive support to this way of thinking. Everybody wants to forget and start something new and better. But does it really work in practice?
Feelings are masters of our thoughts. They can not disappear. Constant, like energy in the “Law No.1” in thermodynamics, they can just change form. They create and influence our lives, even if we are not conscious of them. While we live in the present, looking into the future, we just lay the table with the cloth of the inevitable past .
In my opinion, there are two types of “mentally strong individuals”. There is one group of people who have learned to treat their own feelings with respect. In that way, they have managed to keep their mental health in order. The other type, and they are in majority, are people who have learned to suppress and control their bad feelings. They dissociate from them and after a while, they lose the connection to the good ones, too. They look like mentally strong individuals, but it is just like acting in a theatre. In order to survive, they transfer their problems to the others. Manipulation of and domination over others are among the techniques they use. Instead of changing themselves, they manipulate the world around them, to feel more comfortable and less anxious. Maybe the biggest losers in such an anxious performance are our children, who take over anxiety and manipulating techniques from the nearest family.
Most of us are not mentally strong individuals at all – we just try or pretend to be that. We are vulnerable people, who use time and mental capacity to survive inner tensions and conflicts. In order “not to dwell on the past”, really to focus on the present moment and on the near future, we first need to reduce our own anxiety. It has its roots in the trauma of the past. What we actually do, by not coping with the past, is that we just send our problems on to the future. We plant our mental problems into our descendants.
The ancient Greeks experienced time as a circle. Christians as a line. The Greeks believed that things repeat themselves. It was important to learn something from them, and get better. Maybe, for us today, it could be smart to apply another conception of time, as a spiral – the combination of circle and line – The Antique Period and Christianity? Then we can move forward by constantly improving ourselves, learning from the past. In the psychological jargon, “to learn something from the past and be better in the present”, presupposes “to do something with the feelings that disturb our present perception”. Those feelings are created in the past, and only in communication therewith, they can be changed. Fortunately, there are therapeutic techniques for that.
-reg.hypnotherapist and EFT practitioner-