How to Stop Replaying Painful Memories




All right. I want to welcome everybody. it’s always good to be with you. This is a fun one for me. I don’t know. We were trying different things here at bloom. And this one’s fun for me. just having a conversation or talking with you about various different topics. I’ve talked about self-compassion today last time, this time I want to talk about how to stop replaying, painful memories.

And one of the things that I have found in my research, and I’ll share this with you, is that as we look at the post-traumatic stress symptoms PTSD, replaying the memories. Nightmares flashbacks is a very common thing that people experience after sexual betrayal. so replaying it in their mind.

that’s a very common thing. So one of the things that I thought to do is we have these different, new bloom drop-ins and bloom live classes is to address some of the PTSD symptoms and to give you some strategies that could be helpful in doing so. So today my focus is helping you stop. Replaying the painful memories, because my research suggests that probably about eight out of 10 individuals have some kind of memories, flashbacks, or painful things that come into their mind that they seem to have going over and over running again throughout their mind.

So that being said, I, have a short thing I’d like to share with you. And, this is just, how to, stop the painful memories let me get too. Let’s see here.

There are three parts that I want to share with you today. The first is reliving the trauma. It’s actually a criteria B of PTSD and, it’s reliving memories. It’s flashbacks and nightmares, as I said. So I’m going to talk about how that’s the PTSD and talk about it from a research perspective, because most of the work that I do, I try to do based upon the research.

And so I’m going to give you some of the research findings to show how frequently this is happening. Then the second part that I want to focus on today is giving meaning to the painful memories and I’ll explain why that’s important part of the recovery process and the, in the healing process.

And then I’m going to talk about five strategies or five steps you could take to help you move past the painful memories. if I was to. Again, if I was just a poll you who are with me today live, or those who are watching this, I would guess that a majority of you have these memories specific memories that come back into your mind.

And they, this seemed to linger there longer. In other words, they’re just there. They replay. They may not be every day, but they just keep coming back to your mind and haunting the mind. So what happens is the brain is trying to make sense. Story is trying to make sense of what it experienced. So what happens when we get stuck on some thing is that our mind can’t make sense of it.

We don’t know what to do with it. It’s confusing. It’s not what we thought we knew. And so our mind is like, how do I make sense of it? So it oftimes can replay it, trying to figure it out, trying to figure it out. what did I miss? Or how did, how could I be so dumb? or why didn’t I recognize that earlier.

And so you begin to ask all kinds of questions because your brain is trying to make sense of the story. And sometimes the story, it doesn’t make sense. There, there isn’t a good answer for some things.there’s a story. There’s a reason why it happened. There, there is that story, but even that doesn’t make sense at times, it’s like, we were getting along or this and this.

And how did you get down that path? So as our brain is trying to make sense of these things and it can’t do it, it’s typically why it’s so to speak stuck in reliving the memory or the event. So criteria be a PTSD. There’s the core parts, flashbacks, nightmares, and things that remind me of my partner, sexual behaviors.

So we might call those triggers. And in my research, for example, in this one, how often do you have painful memories that remind you. Of your partner’s behaviors. Now, again, I like to show things based upon statistics and what people are telling me. This is a sample of almost 2000 people. Who’ve experienced some form of sexual betrayal, but you can see clearly that painful memories is a happening in probably about 98% of people.

You can see the green bar and that green bar, which is a sliver, is that 2% that said never. But then if you go, sometimes you have about 10% about half. The time is 15%, but more often than not is well over 40% and always is about 28 to 29%. So what we’re seeing here is, realistically, if you just added about half the time and more.

you’re probably 85 to 86% of people half the time or more have painful memories that remind them of what their partner did. So I’m trying to say this. This is it’s actually more normal to have painful memories than to not have painful memories. So many times people say, what’s wrong with me?

I’m going crazy. And I’m like, actually, Your response is actually a normal response. it’s, that’s a natural response. That’s common. And that’s the difference between I think I’m going crazy. And in reality, you’re actually responding in a normal natural way. To the experience something traumatic happened and your brain is reliving it.

Let me give you an example that would maybe help make more sense of this. Let’s say that you and I are driving down the road and we get in a car accident. It would be very common for you to relive that car accident over and over in your mind, because that’s what trauma is. it’s literally remembering the experience and it gets stuck inside of us.

And we don’t know how to process it. I don’t know how to make sense of the car crash. I didn’t see it coming. And how did I miss it? and why did it happen? And so we have these painful memories. And that metaphorically is what we’re experiencing with sexual betrayal when we’re so caught off guard, it’s not what we anticipated.

And so our mind is literally replaying it saying, how do I, what, all So then we go to disturbing dreams. And this is one that I think is often overlooked because we typically think of PTSD and war veterans, and we see, they’re having disturbing dreams or nightmares. if you look at this chart, you can see that again.

If you just look at the green bar about 22% of people report that they have not had disturbing dreams that remind them of their partner’s behaviors. if 22% say never, that would suggest that 78%, 78%. Have some kind of disturbing dream at some point in this process after discovery. So sometimes about half the time, more often than not, or always now you can see that this one is not as high as the previous chart that we looked at, but you can still see that about 78% of those who took the survey.

Yeah. I have had a disturbing. So if you’ve had disturbing dreams, that too is a part of the brain trying to make sense of the experience. Sometimes people have dreams that finish a story that make it,it may may be things that didn’t happen, but it even is worse than what they were told. The point is disturbing.

Dreams are normal as well.

Now I asked this question, how often do you have episodes where you feel like you are reliving the event? Now partner’s discovery, you’re reliving it over and over. And again, this goes back to telling me, okay, my research is actually why I create the content that I do. I hope that makes sense.

So I look at the research and say, okay, this is what’s happening. How do we help betrayed partners who are experiencing these things? And this is actually one of the reasons why I chose this topic for today is because if you look at this, you can see that again. You can see that over 95% of those who took the survey have episodes where they are reliving the event over and over again.

And it’s just, it’s happening so much that we have to stop and say, what is it, why is it happening and how do we. and that’s my hope is to help you, if this is what you’re experiencing and based upon my research, my guess is at some point you are experiencing this or you have experienced it in the past.

Yeah. So I want to now move on to this concept, what I call giving meaning to the painful memories and really, let me try to explain what that means when we give meaning to something. It’s our interpretation of it. Many of you will have at some point experienced anger beyond what you’ve maybe ever felt in your entire life.

so my research also tells me that it’s very common to feel anger in ways that you’ve just, I didn’t know, I could get that angry is what I hear from some of my clients. So when I give meaning to these painful memories, What is really happening here is I’m actually going from the anger into what it’s really about, because anger is the second hand emotion.

There’s something underneath that anger is being manifest, but there’s something underneath the anger. So as I invite you to give meaning to the painful memory, really what I’m asking you to do is slow down the process. And look at the memory itself. I’m asking you to think about your thoughts. Your emotions, your physical sensations in your body.

What is it doing to my body, this memory. and usually it’s creating inside a fear and anxiousness almost. I want to get out of my body type of a response. I’m. So I’m so something emotional, anxious, angry. I don’t know what to do with this. And so I don’t know how to sit with what I’m feeling.

And one of the ways that we help our clients work through that is to give a voice or a language to the painful memory. So the concept I’m going to go after here is give it meaning to the painful memory. So when we replay an event over and over in our minds and it grows in intensity. So if I go over something over and over and over and over and over and over, and I can’t change the outcome, then it grows in its intensity.

I become more fearful, more anxious as if it’s happening to me again in this moment, right here, right now, over and over again. So an example of that, that we could maybe all relate to at some in some way is if we think back to nine 11, Now nine 11 for most citizens in the United States and maybe throughout the world, is it as a memory and if I asked you to think about nine 11, you probably would come up with planes flying into buildings, or, maybe it was in Pennsylvania where the plane flew into the ground or where you were at that day when you listened or watched, but more often than not in cases like this, we will have gone to the television to watch the news, and we will watch these events over and over again.

And in that context, what happens is we begin to be frozen into that memory.

So our mind, isn’t thinking what, that this happened in the past. It’s actually feeling it as if it’s happening again right now. So instead our mind is replaying this event and we feel as if it’s happening to us right now. Which is why I can get angry, which why I can, on a dime, I can switch from one emotion to the other because I’ve hit some event or experience that reminds me of what has happened.

And all of a sudden I’m flooded with these emotions. And I feel like it’s happening to me right now. It may have been a year ago. It may have been 10 years ago, but I may be feeling as if it’s happening to me. So as we work through this process of giving it a meaning, we need to ask ourselves very specific questions. These questions are what have I come to believe about myself as a result of my partner’s behaviors.

What meaning am I giving to this experience?

Some common examples that I have heard over and over are I am not enough question mark, or am I not enough? Am I not lovable? And so as we begin to slow down these memories, if you think back to the memory that comes back to your mind over and over again, You begin to realize that it actually can come back into you.

I am not enough. And the way that you would do that is ask that first question. What have I come to believe about myself as a result of my partner’s behaviors in particular, you might need to go to that specific memory. That memory made me feel like I am unlovable, not enough. Stupid, whatever your mind interpreted that experience to be, then you draw this conclusion about you.

So now let me close with five specific strategies for helping you move past these painful memories. Some of these strategies you will be best to do with a professional therapist. Some of them you can do on your. But I’m going to give you the strategies that if you were in my office, these are the ways that I would work with you to help you move past these painful memories.

first of all, we have to identify the memory or the memories. So that’s not hard for most of you, you’ll be able to identify the specific memory or memories that seem to come back into your mind over and over the ones that keep replaying. The second step I already covered is what I refer to as what meaning have you given to that memory?

In my book, treating trauma from sexual betrayal, this book, in this book, I actually talk about a step by step process where you go through what’s referred to as the five whys. Now the five whys is actually something that originated in Japan, in the Tokyo,auto manufacturing’sfactory for Toyota..

And they brought in a person whose job was to reduce the accidents. And as they started going through recent accidents, this person began to ask questions. And the question was, why did the accident happen?

And as, as we looked, as they looked at it because the accident happened because the person who was in charge took a break, the person that filled in didn’t know how to shut off the conveyor belt. And because they didn’t auto shut off the conveyor belt, it continued going. So why was he put in charge?

Why was he put in charge of the conveyor belt when you didn’t know how to shut it off? he just was trained and he actually, that was part that he had forgotten. So why did we put him in that kind of responsibility? Do you notice how they’re asking the why. as they asked five whys, they got down to the root of the problem and they found that every accident that happened, they were able to eliminate and thus, they became one of the most effective auto manufacturing companies in the world.

All right. So I took that concept and other professionals have taken that concept and applied it in different contexts. I’m now applying it to the meaning of the memory. So my spouse betrayed me and my spouse cheated on me, whatever their sexual behaviors were. And then I go to my memory. And instead of the, why you might say the, what meaning am I giving to this experience?

Why did that happen? I, the meaning I gave it to is I chose poorly. I, they deceive me and that makes me angry. Okay. So why does that bother you? they deceive me. It makes me feel like I’m stupid.

Tell me more about that. what does that do to when you feel stupid and why is that bothering you? obviously I’m not good at making decisions. There’s something wrong with me.

You notice how we’re getting to a core belief here, right? I’m stupid. I didn’t make a decision. Maybe I draw this deeper conclusion, That my partner didn’t choose me. So maybe I’m not enough. And see then what happens is the meaning that I’ve given to this original memory of the betrayal, what I’m actually, when I pause and reflect and look at it, I come to a conclusion that it actually, it’s my core belief that I don’t feel like I’m enough.

And maybe that feeling of not being enough reminds you of an earlier life experience. Maybe something happened earlier in life that also reminds you that I wasn’t enough. Maybe my dad or my mom did or said something or maybe my friends on a playground that also reminds me that I wasn’t enough. And so my partner’s behavior is just reminding me of previous events.

That’s a possibility, but it doesn’t have to be the case. But the point is if I come to these conclusions, or these beliefs. Then I, what I’m in essence has happened to me is the memory is replaying because I’m trying to figure out how to be enough. I’m trying to figure out how to not be so stupid, how to not let that happen again, how to create the boundary.

And I’m trying to solve this problem. And I’m replaying this thing over and over in my mind. And I’m saying, let’s get down to the core belief. And if we deal with a core belief, we might actually help you deal with that reliving the event. In a more effective way. So that’s one of the ways that we do that.

In addition, I’m inviting you to listen very carefully to your body. In other words, I want you to be attuned enough to your body because when the memory comes in, you’re going to be reliving it physiologically more tension, more tightness, more anxiousness. And what I’m wanting you to do is attune to that physical sensation in your stomach, in your shoulders, in your neck, wherever the tension is, I’m inviting you to listen to that.

And now what we’re going to do. Listen to what your body wants to do as you fill that memory. The memory may be in your stomach because if you say threw up or you got nauseous after discovery, it may be there because you feel the tension and the tightness, your stomach, the point then, is that we need to listen to our bodies as well to help us work through.

Trapped memories get stuck in us. Our body actually is how you’re going to release that tension. And that’s some work that we actually do with trauma focused yoga. And one of the things that we realize is trauma is actually moved out through the body. It’s not talked out so we don’t talk out trauma. The body releases that trauma, the tension and the tightness.

And that’s actually one of the ways that you will know that you’ve passed through the trauma is when your body feels a calmer sense. And it doesn’t feel that tightness or tension that it often has felt when that memory comes into your mind. That is a process that I typically do in the intensives that we do.

And in the therapeutic work that I do is actually we do the yoga because I want you to listen to your body because your body is actually telling you what it needs to do to release or let go of it. It’s also something that we do in EMDR. Eye movement, desensitization and reprocessing is we get you in tune with the memory and what your body is feeling when that memory comes up.

So in many therapeutic approaches, we’re actually trying to get you to listen to your body and what your body needs to do to release that tension. All right. So finally, I want you to imagine healthy ways to respond. and now what I’m doing is looking at the other side of this. If I have a traumatic memory, I might go into that memory and say, I wish I would have, or if I could redo that I would respond in this way, or I might have somebody there to support me a loved one, there to support me in that difficult memory.

I have done this with clients where I will go back to the traumatic memory and we will insert into that memory. Somebody who supports them a loved one. Some situations, it’s a protective person. I’ve actually had Ironman in those moments. Come with us. the point is we bring safe people there in those traumatic memories to help us respond in a way that maybe we couldn’t by ourselves.

That’s called attachment focused EMDR, where you could bring a loved one with you. And it’s a different way of rewriting the memory. So you have to remember that a memory is here. If it goes into my long-term memory. Then I pull it back up to my current memory or working memory as some people refer to it as when it comes here.

It doesn’t have to go back down the same way it was, it changes when it’s up here in our current memory. So why not insert someone in there who is loving and kind and would protect you in that difficult and painful memory? So that’s another strategy that I use with my clients now. The fifth and final step today is processing these negative memories.

And really I could rephrase this statement saying process negative beliefs. I’m unlovable. I’m not enough because when we process the negative beliefs or memories and they lose their power over us, then we know that we’ve processed through those difficult memories. So these are the strategies that I have found to be effective in my work.

With clients who have experienced sexual betrayal and how we work to treat the memories that keep replaying over and over in the mind. All right. Those are the questions from anybody. Those are the thoughts. I have any final questions that you have for me.

Okay, thank you for those of you who are live with me today. I appreciate you taking the time to be with me and I,those who are going to be watching this, later, thanks for taking the time to watch this. Hopefully these are helpful for you guys, but we will continue doing them. May you be blessed as you work through the healing and recovery process?

Thank you very much, everybody.

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