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Here’s a practical technique for healing the psychological damage when you’ve gone through a traumatic experience.
This helps you to ‘get over it’ by reducing the intensity of the emotion and rewiring how you interpret and give meaning to the experience in your subconscious. What this practical technique will not do necessarily, is to fix the underlying cause - that is, why the experience happened in the first place. Although that is very important, this exercise isn’t about that. It is quite easy and requires that you go through some simple visualizations.
If you find it difficult to remember all the details of the visualization exercises by yourself, it is a good idea to ask a friend or loved one to gently guide you through the visualizations by reading to you what follows.
ok, ready to start?
You are going to need to set aside 20-25 minutes for this exercise. Find a calm place where you are alone and won’t be distracted. First, you need to get your body in a relaxed but alert position. You might want to sit in a comfortable chair or lie down on the floor or bed. Choose whatever works best for you.
Next, take several deep breaths and exhale. Slow down your breathing gently. Bring your mind to the present and center your thoughts. As you contine breathing, it’s ok to let your eyes close. Continue concentrating on your breathing. Then, when you are ready, imagine yourself in a movie theater. But not just any movie theater. This is your movie theater. Every thing about it is just as you would want it to be. The seats, the screen, the walls, the lighting… everything is to your liking. When you have taken a moment to realize just how much you enjoy being there, you take a seat and soon realize that that a movie is about to be played.
On the screen you see being shown the event that has created these strong emotions in you. You watch it as it plays out. If you were party to the event, you can see yourself in the movie too. Go ahead, watch the movie, listen to the sounds, the voices… everything. Let it play out from start to finish. Give yourself time to watch the whole thing. When it is finished, continue to the next part.
This is your movie theater, remember? You rule here. You can decide what and how any movie is played here. You’re going to exercise some of this authority. First, play the ‘movie’ again, but this time, play it backwards. That is, from the end to the start. And as you watch, you’ll see that the movie starts at the end of the event, and things are going backwards in time. If you have people in the movie, they are walking backwards, their speech sounds funny, things fall up instead of down, etc. Go ahead and watch your movie backwards. When you’re done, continue to the next step.
Alright, now you’re going to play the movie again - from start to finish - but this time, you will change the soundtrack. Instead of the sounds, voices and background noises in the original, you’re going to change the music to silly circus music. You know that funny song that plays when the clowns come out and get up to their crazy antics? Go ahead and watch your movie with that music. When you’re done, go on to the next part.
Alright, this time you’re going to play the movie of the event as it happened, from start to finish, but at twice the normal speed. Everything will happen faster than it actually did. People’s voices and other sounds would naturally also be changed as the speed is increased. You might notice that people’s voices become high pitched and sound silly, that the whole movie takes on a humorous tone as people move about much faster and that movements are jerky. Go ahead and watch the movie now at twice the speed.
ok, great. You’re almost done.
Now, while you’re still sitting in your comfortable chair in your movie theater, play the movie of the event again but this time, make it a musical. That is, as the movie is playing, at the moment when you least expect it, a person or persons in the movie suddenly bursts into song and they sing their heart out. Then they stop and continue what they were doing as if nothing had happened.. Then suddenly again, the players busts into song. You can also add choreaography if you like. Why not have the people in the movie break out into synchronized dance moves as they are singing? It’s your movie, and it’s your movie theater. Go ahead and have some fun. I’ll wait. When you’re done, go on to the last part.
For the last showing of the movie, you’re going to distort the size of things in the movie. For example, if the movie takes place in an office, suddenly you see yourself growing bigger and bigger, until you crash through the roof and are looking down on the little people. You can also have other things or people changing size while you remain the same. For example, they can suddenly shrink to a tiny portion of their normal size. But everything other than this is going on normally in the movie. That is, the plot or events unfold as you remember them, but its just that there is something really strange going on with the dimension of things as they balloon in size or shrink, almost instantaneously. Go ahead and play the movie with this new twist.
Alright. Now you notice that the curtains on the movie screen are sliding towards each other. The movie theater is getting ready to close for the day. You slowly get up from your comfy chair in the movie theater and find your way out. As you do so, your eyes slowly open and very naturally and comfortably, you come back to awareness of your surroundings.
Give yourself some time. Then come back and remember the event or memory that caused this in the first place. If you notice that it is less intense or it just doesn’t elicit the same feelings, you know that you’ve succeeded. And if you like, you can always repeat the exercise.
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