My notes about how to create emotional and psychological distance to painful things took an unexpected turn during my meditation last night. In my meditation I asked myself how can I create distance to the painful things and my brain answered by creating a scene where I was putting all the painful things inside a closet marked “the past”. I closed the door and brushed myself off and added; “it’s not that complicated”. I smiled. Then I asked; “but some of that stuff is not in my past, it’s happening right now.” I heard an answer: “then pretend that it is. I am sure it is connected to the past and to the PTSD anyway”.
Of course, I just haven’t seen it before. It’s such a magical experience to find clarity and answers through meditation. I added this to my notes and I could finally create a strategy to get the distance I need. It’s simply about prioritizing. About being aware of your thoughts and emotions and label them into three categories – are they connected to the past, the present or the future?
Living with PTSD makes you prioritize the past because you don’t know how to cope with the trauma in it. So you relive it and recreate it through flashbacks, memories and nightmares. You don’t see a future because the gravity of the past is too strong. The present is hijacked by the thoughts about the past and you are fighting to survive each day, so it has a low priority. I made this to demonstrate this theory:
But since I’ve been recovering from PTSD I don’t feel the strong gravity of my past anymore. It’s there when I encounter a trauma trigger (could be a smell, a sound, a song, a situation, a place, a person, an object etc) but I can fight the gravity and snap out of it pretty fast now. I try to be present and the meditation is a great tool, as well as the awareness.
I try not to think about the future too much because it makes me feel frustrated and worried at times. I try to be here and now and to be grateful for the things I have in my life at the moment. I am not looking for the ‘next rush’ or obsessing about unattainable things. If I did, I’d probably go insane because I still have many obstacles to overcome before I have access to it.
So I think the key to creating distance to painful things, is knowing where they fit on the timeline (past-present-future) and then remember their proper prioritization (no/low/high). It will work as a GPS for the mind and will create a distance and a disengagement for the things with low or no priority and provide a clear focus and energy for the things which are high priorities.