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Lesson 3 – Understanding What Happens Mentally

Now that you know what happens emotionally and physically when you’ve experienced the deep pain of loss, it’s time to look at what happens with your thoughts and how you process information.

The Power of Your Thoughts

When you’ve experienced a deep emotional wound, the natural response is to attempt to make sense of it.

Your thoughts cycle through many questions, such as:

  1. Why?
  2. What did I do?
  3. How could this happen to me?
  4. Am I being punished for something?

These questions spring from the raw pain you feel.

It’s crucial to realize that your thoughts are so powerful that they can intensify your emotional pain by increasing the production of the chemicals we discussed in the last lesson.

You’ve already been hurt by someone else. Don’t make the pain worse by your own thoughts. Recognize the areas which can sabotage your healing and discover how to stop them.

Three Common Ways You Harm Yourself with Your Thoughts

You can bring healing to yourself through your thoughts, or you can make life more miserable. Do any of these apply to you?

1. You keep thinking about what happened. When you’re caught up in the emotions and memories of an event, your subconscious mind responds as it did when the event first occurred. It produces the same stress hormones, creates the same neurotransmitters, and makes the same tracings in your brain.

  • When you recall a painful event, you re-injure your brain. Your brain and body respond just as it did when it first happened. Instead of being betrayed once, you are betrayed as often as you relive what happened.
  • Find something wonderful and marvelous to think of instead of reviewing the painful past.

You make up stories to explain what happened. Stick to the facts of the event. Don’t make up anything as to why they did what they did. That just makes it worse. Unless you were told, you just don’t know.

  • When you make up stories about what happened, you’re also creating feelings, which has your body making all those chemicals, which then has you feeling worse, which has your body making more chemicals, which…
  • If you didn’t see it or weren’t told by the other person, precede your interpretation with “the story I’m making up is…” This helps you realize that you just don’t know.

3. Your friends and family keep you stirred up. You gotta love them. Your friends and family want to support you. They may be angry about what happened and let you know. They need to heal, and you need to heal.

  • At first this is supportive. If it continues, your feelings are stirred up and you relive the event again.
  • Use these strategies to help you and your loved ones who want to support you:
  • Let them know how much their support helped you.
  • Tell them, in order for you to heal, you need to quit reliving it. They may ask how you’re doing, but please don’t rehash the story.
  • Ask them to assist you by helping you to quit reliving the story. Give them something to say such as, “I’m glad to listen, but you did say you didn’t want to relive what happened. How can I help you most right now?”

These strategies will assist you in breaking the habit of continuing to relive the painful event. Once you quit thinking about it, you can move back into happiness. (You’ll learn more in Module 3.)

Summary

Your self-talk can support your healing or make it more difficult. Avoiding re-living the painful situation and asking others to not have you relive it will assist you in moving forward.

By managing your thoughts, you’ll decrease the chemicals in your body which affect your attitude and mood.

 Exploring Letting Go

In the next module, you’ll explore the concept of forgiveness, what it is and what is isn’t. Before moving on, please anchor in this lesson by spending a few minutes with the following reflection questions.

Reflection

The following questions are designed to assist you in coming to know yourself better. Answer them as fully as you can.

  1. Think back to someone who hurt you emotionally. How often did you keep re-living the situation? What did re-living the situation do to you?
  2. What kinds of stories did you make up about what happened? Explore the motives you attached to the other person and what you made up as their thoughts about you.

Consider a time the support of family and friends kept the pain alive. Explore how their bringing up the event either helped or hurt you.

I. Additional Resources:-

I am in full control of my emotions and thoughts.

I have the ability to direct my thoughts in any situation.

I choose to have thoughts that serve me. Negative thoughts create emotions and beliefs that are contrary to my purpose. I am always focused on my purpose. In every situation, I can choose to have a thought that serves me or impedes me. I choose to have thoughts that serve me.

By controlling my thoughts, I can control my reality. Directing my thoughts is easy for me.

In difficult times, I am focused on solutions. Only by thinking about solutions am I likely to find an acceptable one.

In pleasant times, I am focused on the experience. Allowing my mind to wander limits the amount of enjoyment I can experience. I am fully in the moment during pleasant times.

Negative emotions are signs that something needs to be corrected. When I experience a negative emotion, I immediately focus on finding an alternative to that emotion. This is the only time a negative emotion serves a useful purpose.

It can be challenging to control my thoughts and emotions. When my thoughts stray, I gently bring them back to the present. Life can only be lived and experienced in the moment.

Today, I keep my thoughts focused on the present. I limit my mind’s tendency to dwell on the past and wonder about the future. I am in full control of my emotions and thoughts.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. When do I find it most challenging to control my thoughts?
  2. When is it easiest to control my thoughts?
  3. How would my life change if I had greater control over my thoughts and emotions?

II. Additional Resources:-

I can control my thoughts.

I take direct action to manage my thoughts. An important part of controlling my mind is the ability to stop unwanted thoughts. When I experience the same idea repetitively, I make a conscious decision to limit how long I will think about that topic. This way, I prevent my thoughts from tiring me emotionally.

Although any challenging event can trigger me to have recurring or troublesome thoughts, I usually manage my mind well. Calmly, I reflect on whatever the situation is that I am experiencing. My deliberations are focused.

I resolve any conflicts that come my way through effective management of my thinking. I take control of my thoughts to minimize my experiences of uncomfortable feelings. Then, I move on with my life and all its routines.

Each day, I tell myself that I can be successful at keeping my thoughts under control. I have been victorious in the past with managing my mind and I see triumph in the future as well.

Controlling my thinking brings positive energy into my life. I discover the rewards of peacefulness and serenity through managing my mind. My path is free of any constraints when I choose my own thoughts.

Today, I am content with life because I know I can control my thinking. I plan to re-affirm my goal to successfully manage my thoughts.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. Do I have thoughts that I struggle to manage?
  2. What are the specific types of thoughts I experience that are challenging to control?
  3. How can I ensure that I triumph in my quest to control my thoughts?

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