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Joyously Living Now: Understanding the Past is Key

Joyously living now depends, in part, on our ability to recognize our triggers, accept them, and let them go so that we can be more fully present in our now. Now is our point of power but often, in order to experience this reality, we must understand the past and the way it has cut into and diminished our experience of now.

When I lived in a rehabilitation community, one of its leaders used to say that it didn’t matter whether your father dumped you head first into a closet when you were two years old. All that is past and now is now. But for me, I knew that it did matter. I wanted to understand my fears, doubts, and anxieties. When we understand what triggers these internal states, our experience of life expands.

I experienced trauma as an infant, so many of my fears stem from an early time. Napping is very hard for me, for example. My first nap took place on March 17, 2012. I remember because I blogged about it. (Click on the date to read the post, if you like.) In-between then and now, I’ve napped, at most, two times. A few days ago, I gained more insight into this napping business. In the late afternoon of July 5, 2014, I lay down on my bed and said to myself, Now you can sleep. From deep within, I heard these words: You will not die. 

These barely conscious feelings may harken back to a time even before my infant surgery at one month old when I was dying from pyloric stenosis. I was losing weight due to a stomach blockage, and as I lay in my crib–down 2 and 1/2 pounds from my birth weight 6 pounds, 7 ounces–perhaps I was trying to stay alive by staying awake. Maybe drifting off was terrifying back then because starvation and dehydration were threatening to take me out. Is my resistance to napping a remnant of a survival mechanism?

Whereas the thought of a nap has always been anxiety-producing, it now fills me with curiosity about how I will handle the next time I am ready for one. Certainly, my anxiety will be lessened, for I’ll be able to soothe myself ahead of time, trusting that the nap will invigorate and not harm me.

The ability to self-soothe is key to living in harmony. Understanding what upset us in the past helps us learn how to talk to ourselves in the present. In this way, we can defuse our triggers. Greater self-knowledge makes possible a richer and more joyous now.