How to Heal Past Hurts and Painful Experiences
By Drs. Bev and Tom Rodgers
We all have experienced painful things in our past; a betrayal from a trusted friend, or spouse, negative words spoken in anger by a parent, and some have even experienced physical abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to love us. We call these hurts, Soul Wounds. We specifically look a wounds in childhood because they have a great impact on us today. There is a neurobiological reason for that. Trauma or Soul Wounds are not recorded or processed in the new brain or neocortex, the part of the brain that is logical, objective and solves problems. Soul Wounds or trauma are processed in the old brain or the lower functioning part of the brain. This part of the brain is where the limbic system is located. This part of the brain is subjective, irrational and prone to perceive danger and become reactive. This is the seat of our fight, fight, and freeze emotions. The old brain does not have a sense of time so a soul wound that occurred at age five can be relived at 25 with the same feeling and emotion. Childhood soul wounds can be easily triggered in adulthood because they have a greater impact on our memory since the brain is more formable in childhood. You could say they leave a bigger “scar” on the brain.
These wounds can be triggered in our adult relationships in 1/16 of a second and you react as if you are in grave danger even if this is not the case. Giving your current situation more emotion and energy than it deserves because a childhood trauma is triggered is called reactivity. When you are reactive, you are not in your new brain, your calm, objective, problem-solving part of the brain, and you are processing from your old brain or amygdala to be exact. Thus you are subjective and highly emotional. This can wreak havoc on your life! But you can change your brain. Neuroscience had found that the brain is changeable. This is called Neuroplasticity and this enables you to indeed heal from past pain and even abuse.
A major way to heal the trauma in the old brain is by Repetition. Repetitively speak healing words, think healing thoughts, and pray healing prayers. Yes, this is hard to do when you are wounded but the Lord can help you. When you think thoughts you grow dendrites in the brain. These are like thought trees that get stronger and stronger with repetition. Negative thoughts release negative brain chemicals and positive thoughts release positive brain chemicals. So you want to kill negative thoughts that haunt you by not thinking them, and you want to grow positive thoughts by repeating them regularly. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Take every thought captive to the truth of the word of God. God’s word says He loves us with an everlasting love and has great plans for us to give as a future and a hope. Speaking these words repetitively can grow positive dendrites and release positive brain chemicals like serotonin that can help you feel and act better.
The problem is you have to repeat these thoughts a lot, a minimum of 8 times a day for at least 21 days. We say 40 days because that a Biblical model. Some stubborn negative thoughts may take even longer. Dr. Daniel Amen calls these thoughts Automatic Negative Thoughts or ANTS and recommends KILLING ANTS regularly. It is helpful to think of Killing Ants when you are re-programming your thought patterns and negative beliefs.
In killing ants we cannot ignore the fact that the Enemy of our souls is at war against us and loves to remind us or our past pain. He continues to tell us the negative things about us. The scripture says, “Be careful and watch for attacks from the Devil, your enemy, who prowls around like a roaring lion looking
for some victim to devour,” (I Peter 5:8. NLB). We need to wage war against Him by staying positive. Regularly praying against the Enemy’s attacks helps you heal.
We have an exercise in the Soul Healing Love arsenal that is designed to help you repeat positive thoughts and words, kill negative ones, and apply God’s love and grace to change your Story from Pain to Praise. It is called THE RE-MIND because it is to help you reprogram your mind but also to remind you that you are not inferior or unworthy. The RE-MIND Exercise has 5 practical steps to change your brain and your life.
The RE-MIND EXERCISE
There are five steps that require you writing in five columns. They are:
1. What is your negative thought? i.e. “I’m not good enough.” “I’m unworthy.”
2. What is your behavioral adaptation from the negative thought? People pleasing, giving up, etc.
3. Re-tell or Re-Context your story. Share it with an empathetic listener who helps you see God’s perspective. (This can be a therapist, pastor, or trusted friend).
4. Remind yourself of the positive thoughts you have created to combat the negative ones. State them, think the, pray them. Thoughts such as; I am worthy of love, God’s love heals my soul, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, God has plans for my welfare and gives me hope. Pray and memorize Scriptures like Jeremiah 29:11.
5. What will I do and how will I act in the light of these positive thoughts? i.e. Join a group, seek friendships with positive people, forgive those who have hurt you.
The RE-MIND needs to be done a minimum of 8 times a day for 40 days in order to change your brain. We have heard from many clients that it works! Romans 12:1-2 says, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind which is in Christ Jesus.” That is exactly what you are doing, you are being transformed and healed. More information can be found in Soul Healing Love: Turning Relationships That Hurt into Relationships That Heal by Drs. Beverly and Tom Rodgers.