Have you ever found yourself perseverating about something that happened in the past and been unable to get your mind off it? Have you ever found yourself reacting to new situations as if they were something from your childhood or a recurring horrific event you consciously know has passed? Does this happen despite what you tell yourself before or during these events? If this is the case with you, your thinking may be being driven by trauma.
Trauma Doesn’t Have To Do Be In Control
Just because your experience has been one of having your thoughts controlled by traumatic events in your life, this doesn’t mean you’re meant to live every day of your life like Bill Murray’s character in the movie Groundhog Day. You are not meant to be a victim of trauma forever. Your thoughts are things you experience, but you are not their slave. You can regain control of your thinking to the degree your mind can shift from thinking about traumatic events to the here and now, or at least something better than the carousel of the same awful thoughts over and over again.
Traumatic Thinking is More Common Than You Think
You may judge yourself harshly for not being able to get your mind off of past traumatic events, but the reason Groundhog Day was such a popular movie is precisely because of how very common it is for people to perseverate about the same things over and over like every day were a repeat of the previous one. Just consider how someone like Bill Murray’s character who didn’t like his job would feel that sense of deja vu every morning when he got up and went to work. It can be the same with traumatic events in our lives and how the thoughts generated by them keep churning in the mind. It can also be experienced like an LP record that gets stuck at a particular place in a song. It’s as if your mind is trying to figure out or make sense of the event so you can go on with your life, but because of the nature of the mind we can tend to keep thinking about events without ever getting a solution to them.
What Breaks the Groundhog Day Cycle
Of course, there is no magical thinking or trick that can snap you out of the Groundhog Day experience. What is important is to get support from a trained therapist who can help you break the cycle. The needle on the record player needs to be lifted and put somewhere else to get the song ‘unstuck.’ That can often require someone else to let us know the record is stuck and to show us how to shift the needle. The cycle can be broken by at least two things: EMDR and Image Transformation Therapy (ImTT). EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a form of therapy that helps your brain to ‘re-work’ traumatic memories and experiences so that they no longer trouble or beguile you. When you have gone through some of this therapy, simply using the particular type of activation I or another qualified therapist can show you will serve to break you out of the cycle. Image Transformation Therapy is another form of trauma processing that helps get at the underlying emotions that drive the Groundhog Day cycle, as well as any related imagery in the brain that keeps the cycle going. Once these two things have been alleviated you are free to think and feel anyway you choose, unfettered by traumatic events that created the Groundhog Day cycle in the first place.
How I Can Help You in Breaking the Cycle
I am a therapist who is trained in both EMDR and ImTT, and have helped many individuals overcome some of the traumatic events and Groundhog Day experiences that have held them back in their lives. I have also worked in addressing these types of experiences in my own life, so I have approached these situations from both inside and out. I can assure you that no cycle is so out of reach of either of these two methods, given enough time and attention. I encourage you to contact me at 512-374-0100 or email@example.com to talk with me about how I can possibly help you in your situation.
About the author: Scott Kampschaefer, LCSW is a private practice therapist in Austin, Texas. He has an extensive background in working with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder at a clinic for older adults with these disorders in Austin. He now works with adults and adolescents of all ages in private practice.
Click here to find out how Scott can help you with trauma.