Memories are the architects of our identities because of the meaning we derive from our experiences, the messages about ourselves, our lives, relationships, family, and the world.
And what if your memories are painful, and traumatic? What then? Too often the meaning we make of traumatic experiences is negative – I am unsafe, I am weak, I am unlovable. This meaning goes onto inform many subsequent experiences and interactions.
There is an accumulation effect over the course of one’s life and sometimes a whole identity gets built around those traumatic experiences or messages. This is then hard work to change and heal, but it can certainly be done.
For some, these accumulated experiences were so painful and/or inescapable, that protective barriers are erected around them. This can result in a less cohesive identity known as Dissociative Identity Disorder, which can also be healed, but must be done with care and with a therapist who has sufficient knowledge and training.
EMDR therapy can help you change the way these memories are stored in your brain, and the meaning that is made from the experience can be edited to include updated information. This can have a profoundly healing impact on the individual.
And then there is the hard work of carrying those internal changes forward into daily life. It often requires learning new skills, changing patterns of relating, making new decisions about if/how to relate to family, where to make healthy friends, and how to better take care of oneself.