Arguing with the Past

February 10, 2020

By Elaine Goldhammer MD

Elaine Goldhammer is a medical doctor who has practiced western medicine for 24 years. In  2018, she created Inner Freedom Therapy to help clients in a deeper and more meaningful way.  She is now the leading Hypnotherapist and Life Coach in West Chester, PA. 

“When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.”

Byron Katie

Don’t you love dogs?  They have NO mind drama about the past.  They are all in the now. My poor Marley puts up with my boys picking her up, teasing her, but she totally does not care.  As long as she gets the basics, food, love, shelter and a patch of grass, she is good! She never makes the fact that yesterday she was alone for hours or that my son always calls her “fat”  mean anything. She is just happy to be alive and present for us to love her.  So why is this so hard for humans to do this?? Well, as they say in Landmark, we are all “meaning-making machines”.

Even though clients come to me wanting to quit smoking, wanting freedom from migraines or IBS, what we end up coaching about is rarely regarding those things.  What typically comes up is the rest of living a human life. There are definitely universal themes that humans deal with. One of the biggest ones is dealing with the past.  The hypnotherapy portion of my programs is particularly powerful in this regard, as we get to understand what the brain made the past mean. The problem, of course, is not the past.  The problem is that our brains are designed to create a narrative about the past. Our brains are actually terrible at remembering the past correctly. My sister and I compared our memories last thanksgiving.  It is so fascinating. The story around Tiger, our cat, dying was completely different than hers. Our young minds processed and stored the narrative in a completely different way.

Our brains are not really designed for storage.  Our brains are designed for processing. Yes, that is right, we are terrible at remembering facts, figures, events exactly.  Our brains push every experience into a narrative and either store it or let it pass. This is why traumatic events stay with us.  Our brains want to store memories so that we can avoid dangerous situations in the future. Our brains are designed to keep us safe.  A memory of having your purse snatched 10 years ago is going to be stored with some detail. A memory of what you had for breakfast last week is not stored.



There is a lot of freedom to be had by retelling your brain a different narrative about the past.  Further freedom occurs when you stop arguing with it. My client had her spouse die suddenly. She is really suffering from this argument in her head that this should NOT have happened.  At least not in this way. She is arguing with reality. This is normal, natural, of course, she is arguing with this total shift in her life. What will help lead to healing however is starting to step into the acceptance of “what is”.  We can still feel sad about it. Feeling sad is awesome. It is the resistance of feeling sad that leads us down these paths of avoidance and suffering.

After accepting “what is”, the next step is to just change the narrative.  This is completely available to us. I could make the purse snatching 10 years ago mean that I am never safe, or I can make it mean that someone else needed my purse more than I did.  Totally different stories in my head that change nothing except my internal voice and emotion.

So be a dog for a day.  Try it out. When someone you love walks through the front door, just be thrilled to see them!  Did they hurt you in the past? Dogs do not even know what that means…..

If you are interested in learning how to do this in real life, schedule a free mini session with Elaine, and find out what this is all about.  

How can Inner Freedom Therapy help?

If you would like to discuss this click to book a free consultation. 

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