The ancient philosopher, Heraclitus, said: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”
I find this a suitable philosophy for life in general. Every moment is distinct. One can be immensely joyful, the next, tragic. No matter how much we think we are prepared for trials, tribulations, and death, we humans aren’t quite ready when they occur.
Can we be?
I was certainly not ready when a car hit Hugh, my husband of 24 years, as he rode his bicycle home from an afternoon workout. His injury changed the course of my life. Watching him struggle through his TBI was the most grueling pain I have ever experienced. I was not ready for the intense anguish that followed, for his job loss, or my anxiety and hypervigilance — for feeling cheated, angry, and immensely sad.
Nor could I have anticipated the rays of light that shot down in the middle of all that darkness: the first words he spoke, his first steps, his memories returning, and the overwhelming kindness of friends and strangers.
Trauma weighs more than light-heartedness (that’s why it’s called lightheartedness, I guess). Problems weigh more than solutions. Sadness weighs more than laughter. Bad news “weighs” on us. It’s where we naturally place our emphasis. We tend to steep in our bad luck and soak in our sorrow.
What if we learned to let our most difficult moments pass as easily as we let our laughter drift off into thin air — to accept them for what they are and know, inherently, that something positive will soon replace our negative experience?
After Hugh’s TBI, I had trouble sleeping because of anxiety until my LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) suggested guided imagery for sleep. From there, I tried listening to walking meditations and affirmations. The more I used these, the better I felt.
I have found positive affirmations to be powerfully healing in my own experience because they have helped me change my thought patterns and behavior. I’m more likely to take care of myself when I’m listening to these affirmations. Here’s an example of a few affirmations on the CD I listen to, created and narrated by Belleruth Naparstek:
“I know there are times when I become worried, pressured, angry or sad, and I accept what I feel as my inner truth of the moment.”
“More and more, I can release the thoughts and feelings that disturb my inner sense of balance and peace. I can send them out with the breath in the interest of my own well-being.”
“More and more, I understand that the time to be motivated by guilt, fear, or mindless pressure is over. Now is the time to do things out of love, celebration, and the joy of self-expression.”
“I call upon my intention to bring more calm and well being into my life. I engage my powerful will to help with this.”
How can we fortify ourselves and possibly reduce the negative effects of trauma in our lives? TBI is a lifelong injury that can cause problems down the road like seizure disorders or the early onset of dementia. Perhaps affirmations are one answer.
The current of life is ever changing, but we can strive to create a current of positive affirmations that help us to focus longer on our better moments and less on the heavy ones. My hope is that by internalizing these positive statements, I will be more prepared to accept the next round of bad news that intrudes in my life, and I will not dwell in the negativity it creates for one minute longer than necessary.
What affirmations might help you right now? Please share.
Source: Naparstek, Belleruth, “Meditations to Relieve Stress” Health Journeys CD. © 1995.