When I`m out and about, I`m listening to the “Thinking allowed“-Podcasts at the moment, and yesterday, I stumbled upon an episode about football and domestic violence. Apparently, there tends to be more domestic abuse when the perpetrator`s team has an unexpected (this seems important!) win or defeat, and women who escaped such a relationship say to this day, they cannot stand anything to do with football, even if they were once very fond of it themselves.
I always thought I was the only one who, once hurt with our around something, cannot face this something again without unpleasant memories intruding and spoiling what would otherwise be a pleasant experience, and I always felt childish and unreasonable for this.
It`s still a job in progress, and I often need to work really hard to disconnect say, Christmas from certain memories I have around it. Still, I often become what others think of as unduly upset about seemingly trivial matters.
After a longish phase of reading psychology and therapy, I now realise that me being upset is never about the incident itself but always about my feelings about it, and my feelings are still stuck in the past. While I cannot change the past and not always the current incident or situation in question either, I can always try to change my feelings, at least a little bit.
What helps is asking myself the following questions:
- Would I be as upset if there wasn`t a connection to past injuries? (other people, other places, etc)
- Could I imagine others (I have a small list of names I add here, ranging from people I admire to people who are most like me) becoming upset if they were in my situation? How would they feel and act?
- How would I feel if this had happened to someone else, and they were telling me they were as upset as I am? Would I be upset for them? What would I think, feel and say to them?
All these questions force me to take a step back and see that my feelings are really still about the past, and not the present incident. And while that`s not always enough to ease the pain, at least it prevents me from lashing out at people in the present who often have nothing to do with the past injury (or wouldn`t necessarily be aware of the connection).