Every morning I stand in the doorway and keep an eye on my daughter while she waits for the school bus. She has to wait far enough away that she can’t stay in and watch through the window, but she’s close enough that I can see her.
Most of the time it’s fine, but sometimes it’s bitterly cold. Even for me, stood in the sheltered doorway of a cosy house. And I feel so sorry for her.
She’s fine. She has a fluffy hat with gloves, a cosy coat, and a neck warmer.
But that’s a logical “she’s fine”, not an emotional one.
Every time I look out at her, standing there waiting for the bus, I become a 7 year old version of me again.
I used to wait for a local taxi to take me and my brother to school. We would pick up 2 other kids on the way. The joys of living in the middle of nowhere.
I would wait at the gate at the end of the driveway. This was a little closer to the house than the place my daughter waits, and I was waiting for a taxi not a bus. The gate was a metal one attached to a mesh fence. It was probably the most exposed place a person could stand. There were no trees or hedges to interrupt the weather. My daughter waits by a wall under the shelter of a large tree.
I also wasn’t dressed up warm. We were incredibly neglected and starved, so we had no meat on our bones to keep us warm. One of the things I vividly remember was the way the cold and wet weather would make my inner thighs red raw. They would get chapped so badly that I would cry while I walked because it hurt so much.
I’ve known people who used the fact that they got chapped thighs to beat themselves up for being so fat. But I was the opposite of fat, and I still had that problem.
I remember the pain. I remember being scared to walk. I remember freezing in while I waited for the taxi.
So it’s hard for me to just watch my daughter standing at the bus stop. It feels like I am a small child standing next to her, freezing and hurting.
This is what happens all the time. Things are given meaning because of memories. Not conscious memories. Your brain is incredibly proficient at pattern matching. It can filter lots of information, infer stuff from it and respond to it.
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It does this all the time. So while you think you are responding to facts e.g. “I stumbled over my words, everyone thinks I’m an idiot”, what is actually happening is your subconscious is rapidly searching your memories for anything that is remotely similar to the current situation. Then, if the matched memory has a meaning or a risk in it, then you will react emotionally.
You can’t stop this pattern matching. What you can do is edit and update the stored memories, so when your subconscious finds a match, there is no call-to-action i.e. there is no emotional response. This is tricky for you to do yourself, so get in touch if you need a little help firstname.lastname@example.org