In the self-development world, it is often said that the past only exists in someone’s mind. Therefore, if they often think about what they have been through and this is causing them to suffer, they just need to change what is taking place in this part of them.

Now, what can’t be denied is that what they went through is over, it is not possible for them to go back in time and change what happened. The only moment that they have is now and soon, what they are experiencing will be another memory.

It’s Clear

With this in mind, it makes sense that it would be said that someone’s past only exists in their mind. So, if they have the tendency to think about their past, they will need to change their ‘negative’ thoughts.

By replacing their ‘negative’ thoughts with ‘positive’ thoughts, they will gradually be able to let go of their past. How long this will take can all depend on how caught up they are in the past and how their mind responds to this approach.

Stepping Back

However, although it can seem as though their past only exists in their mind, what if there is far more to it? What if what is going on in their mind is a sign that other parts of them are also caught up in their past?

If they believe that they begin and end with their thinking brain or their conscious sense of themselves, this might be hard for them to accept. As far as they are concerned, there won’t be another or other parts of them that will impact what is going on in their mind.

A Small Part of Them

In reality, their mind will just be a small part of them; it won’t be where they begin and end. Along with this part of them, there will be their limbic system, brainstem and body.

Another way of looking at this would be to say that, in addition to their conscious mind, there will be their unconscious mind. Considering this, if their mind is continually caught up with what took place in their past, it is likely to show that other parts of them are carrying the impact that their past had on them.

The past is present

What this will illustrate is that while what they experienced in their past will be in the past, the impact that it had on them won’t be. Yet, as the impact that it had on them will have been repressed and will be outside of their conscious awareness, it will naturally seem as though their ‘negative’ thoughts are the only issue.

Their ‘negative’ thoughts will mainly be a symptom of what is going on for them at a deeper level. Thus, in the same way that weeds have roots and don’t just appear; their ‘negative’ thoughts will have roots and won’t have just appeared.


The trouble is that as they are likely to live in a society that is mind-centric, there will be no reason for them to look deeper. The approaches that are available in this society, at least in the mainstream, will largely be a reflection of this inner disconnection.

This can be seen as a sign that this is a society that is not trauma-informed as one thing that trauma does is create an inner disconnection. Unknowingly, then, this society, as a result of being made up of people who are traumatised to one degree or another, will typically focus on the mind and overlook the body.

Another Element

It will also be a society that is not repression-informed, which is why what is going on in their mind will be seen as the only issue as opposed to a sign that they are likely to be carrying pain. As opposed to their mind being a problem, then, it can be seen as a messenger.

The key, of course, is for them to be able to look beyond their thoughts and explore what is going on at a deeper level. To use an analogy, one way to see their ‘negative’ thoughts would be to say that these are the ‘smoke’ and the pain that is likely to be held in their body is the ‘fire’.

Two Levels

Ego, if they simply change their ‘negative’ thoughts in order to become more present, this won’t allow them to put out the fire that is burning outside of their conscious awareness. The only thing that this is likely to do is to build defences that block out the feedback that is trying to get through to them.

And, as this repressed material can’t go up, it can end up staying down and going outward, and undermine their physical health instead. In the same way that a dog can’t speak to them using words, the other parts of their brain and body can’t speak to them using words either; but these other parts can speak to them by putting pressure on their mind, for instance, and, thereby, create the impression that this part of them is the issue.

Reading between the Lines

This is why it is important for them to go beyond this part of them and to look into why this part is often producing these ‘negative’ thoughts. If they were to do this, they are likely to find that these ‘negative’ thoughts are partly a defence against pain and that they are carrying a lot of pain.

This can be pain that they have experienced throughout their adult and childhood years and were unable to face and integrate and ended up being repressed. By facing and working through this pain, they are likely to find that their mind gradually settle down and they are more present.


If someone can relate to this and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided with the assistance of a therapist or healer.

Author's Bio: 

Author, transformational writer, teacher and consultant, Oliver JR Cooper, hails from England. His insightful commentary and analysis covers all aspects of human transformation, including love, partnership, self-love, self-worth, enmeshment, inner child, true self and inner awareness. With over three thousand, two hundred in-depth articles highlighting human psychology and behaviour, Oliver offers hope along with his sound advice.

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