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EXERCISE: Coping with memories: Reminding yourself it was in the past

When a memory is triggered it can feel as if the divorce event is happening all over again. Our minds and bodies can feel like we are back in the moment the trauma took place, rather than recognizing that we are revisiting a memory.

During a flashback, we often describe what we can see or sense in the present tense. To help put the memory in the past, it is useful to practice rephrasing your common thoughts about the event in the past tense, particularly whenever you have a flashback memory or after having a nightmare.

This technique is most helpful while we are in the midst of a flashback. It may seem simple but it can be a powerful technique to help your brain, in the heat of the moment, remember that it is not happening all over again.

 

Here are some examples

He’s here in the room >

He was in the room when he told me he wanted a divorce

I hear him saying he doesn’t love me anymore >

I heard him say those words during that event years ago

I see him walk away >

I see him walk away years ago

He shudders when I touch him >

He shuddered when I touched him years ago

 

Write your most common thoughts when you’re having a flashback and then rephrase them so they are in the past. Practice saying them to yourself often.

List your current thinking (at least 3 items), and then the corresponding feeling from the past.