Is your past still affecting you? Are painful emotions from childhood holding you back?

How do you know if your past is still affecting you?
Some people are very aware of how their past affects their present. For example, being a child of divorce can create insecurity and worry in present day relationships. Growing up with an alcoholic parent can leave a variety of emotional scars.

If you are not sure, here are some signs your past is still affecting you:
1. You have stronger reactions to problems than other people.
2. You tend to hold onto painful emotions long after the event is over.
3. You keep having the same problems over and over. Nothing ever gets resolved.

If you decide that your past is affecting you, what is your next step?
Many people try to release their cognitive memories or forget the past. Forgetting the past may not be the best decision. If you manage to push the memories out of your mind, the painful emotions may not be affected.

A more useful solution is to release the painful emotions and keep the memories. There is much to learn from your past.

How can you release painful emotions?
Emotion are different from cognitions. According to Candace Pert (who wrote the Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine and appeared in the movie, What the BLEEP Do We Know!?), painful emotions are stored in the body. We can discover these emotions by paying attention to the physical sensations in the body. We feel the loss of a love as a broken heart. Stress feels like the weight of the world on our shoulders. A case of nerves becomes butterflies in our stomach. These are embodied metaphors and they describe the way we feel in our bodies.

When you work with emotions, you will be using subjective experiences, not facts. You will be using the same part of your brain that dreams every night. People say that working with these emotional memories is a lot like having a dream while you are awake.

Here are three steps to releasing the past without reliving the painful memory.
It is best to start with something small before you move on to bigger issues.

Step 1 Describe the problem emotion as a metaphor.
Select a problem emotion that you are ready to release. Remember a recent time when you felt that emotion. Pay attention to your body. Where do you feel the emotion? Is it in a specific place or all over? Does that sensation have a shape or a size? Keep describing your physical sensations (color, temperature, movement, sound, brightness, etc.). Can you describe these sensations using a metaphor? For example: rough, brown, lumpy becomes a rock in your belly. Gray, wispy, floats around becomes smoke or fog in your chest. What is your metaphor?

Describing your emotion as a metaphor connects you with a deeper part of your brain and body where healing can take place. You can think of these metaphors as emotional poems.

Step 2 Find a time before you ever felt your problem emotion.
Go back in time to a younger self who was healthy and whole. This younger self never felt the problem emotion or experienced the problem metaphor. You may need to go back to a very young age. Trust your intuition to help you select the best age. This younger self knows exactly what you need in order to heal. There is no need to revisit painful memories. How old is your younger self?

Step 3 Release the problem emotion.
Emotions become stuck because you did not get your needs met in childhood. For example, you may have needed to feel safe or loved or respected. Perhaps you needed to express yourself or leave the situation and you could not. Maybe you just needed to be comforted.

One way to supply this needed quality or emotion is to select a helper. A helper is a metaphor that has exactly what you needed as a child. Your family dog can comfort you. An angel can help you feel loved. A horse can help you run away. A helper can be anything you can imagine. If possible, let your younger self select the helper. Describe your helper.

Now tell the story of how your helper and your younger self release the problem metaphor from your body. Remember you are working with embodied metaphors, not facts. The problem metaphor can transform into something positive or it can return to the environment or simply disappear. An angel can repair a broken heart. A fuzzy dog can help you feel safe as the rock of fear dissolves. Your story does not need to make logical sense just as a meaningful dream does not describe the real world.

Keep working with your story until you experience a shift in your body. When the metaphor leaves your body, that emotional pain leaves your life for good.

Letting go of the past does not need to be painful or take a long time. Letting go of the past is the first step in living the life you dream about.

Author's Bio: 

Donna Weber, M.A., LPC is an emotional change consultant. Her goal is to help you release emotional wounds, reclaim your true self, and start living the life you dream about. To find more information and self-help techniques, visit her web site: