You are at work. You turn a report in to your boss who makes a bit of face when he takes it. You are immediately flooded with feelings of shame and worthlessness. A very strong reaction for a seemingly small event. Ever wonder why?
We store things in our brains going back to when we were infants-possibly even in utero. Each memory is encoded and put away. Depending on how traumatic the memory was for us, that event is either stored neatly away to be pulled up so that we can make connections to learn from it. Or stored in a very haphazard manner, with the edges sticking out so that we are tripping over it again and again, so that it feels like it is happening to us, again and again. But what makes it worse, is that it becomes a building block and other memories are stored on top, with a direct line to that early memory. Perhaps when our boss makes that face, the message that we receive is that we are worthless or incompetent, which connects to the memory of when we were in college and a professor marked up our paper and made disparaging remarks which leads directly to our coach in high school who was always yelling at us which leads directly to junior high when a friend dumped us because we weren’t “cool” enough which leads directly to elementary school when we didn’t get a part in the school play which leads directly to when we were five and trying to learn to tie our shoes with a parent who was overwhelmed and tired that day who said, “Aren’t you ever going to get this?” A seemingly small event, however, in our young minds it became huge. We didn’t know how to process it so it did not get stored neatly but rather stayed in the present. And any event after that resonated with that same theme of “I am incompetent” triggered that whole long line of events.
That is why your boss’s face elicited such a strong reaction in you.
Now that you understand what is going on, I want you to be aware that it is possible to make those connections and pack that memory away in a healthier manner so that you realize that your mom was really tired that day but that she did think that you were competent, which helps to heal all those other memories sitting on top of that one. The best way that I know to do it is EMDR therapy. Take some time to look at how your memories connect. But even more importantly, take time to heal. Go find a therapist that is trained in EMDR therapy. Take time for yourself. Be aware of those themes that get in your way. Take time for you! You are worth it!