Recently, a friend of mine who wishes to remain annonymous sent me an e~mail that I thought was worth posting for discussion:


Here’s a question for you … [in your] journal, do you ever go back and read the entries? Do
you think the human mind blocks out bad experiences? … I know it’s
proven that if something traumatic happens in the past your body …
can go into shock … But I’m talking smaller stuff, just bad times
in your life or whatever. …whenever I go through … turbulent times
I may or may not think they are really bad at the
time, but I when I look back on those experiences I usually think ‘oh,
that wasn’t that bad’. However, a couple of years ago I wrote about some stuff I was going through, that now I say … wasn’t that bad, but I read that stuff and damn. It
sure seemed bad when I was reading about it. Was I blowing it out of
proportion, or has my mind blocked things out? … [or]
dulled the emotion attached . . .

Does the mind block pain out of one’s memory as a defense mechanism?

If
so, does this mean that in order to learn from your experiences, or at
least know how to deal with something for the next time it happens, you
must write down what you go through and the emotions you felt during
that period of time? I’m talking physical and emotional here … I think
the question applies for both.


I
think it’s interesting to think about. In my experience, this is
yet another double-edged sword. Do our brains soften our pains
with time? Sometimes. We hear about cases all the time of
people going into shock and developing amnesia; we’re programed to
self-preserve. Generally speaking, human beings don’t enjoy
emotional pain; we avoid it when necessary. The two people
present when I got the call that my grandfather, Bobby, passed away
will tell you that I howled with pain and sobbed uncontrollably.
Thinking about it now I still tear up; but as I approach the second
anniversary of his death, do I still miss him terribly?
Yes. Do I still love him more than I can say? Yes.
But do I cry every time I think of him? No, thankfully.
I’ll never get him back; he wasn’t physically present for my senior
recital; he won’t sit in his usual pew at my wedding; and my children
will never know the warmth of his hugs. I managed to sing at his
funeral; but that was a sheer miracle of finely-honed focus. But
over time, and through the gift of one vividly comforting dream and
thousands of joyous memories, I don’t howl anymore for how much I miss
him. Time has eased my pain.

I
think it’s good for us to be able to step away from our miseries and
move on, partially because I think we tend to exaggerate things when we
are in pain. But I also know that it can be a good thing to be
able to look back and recall what we felt, which is why most therapists
recommend journaling. Without giving out too much personal
information (), I journal for just that
purpose — to be able to look back and know how I felt in certain
situations, because I tend to downplay how I feel in certain
situations, or to overlook the patterns in my feelings. But I
also know, again from personal experience, that sometimes we tend to
make things a bigger deal then they have to be.

Anyone else want to add their two cents to my two dollar post?

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