Because my work can include trauma resolution, I am asked some version of this question all the time: Do I have trauma? Doesn’t everybody have trauma in their past? Could it be a past life? Well, let’s stick with this life for now.

We all have pasts and our brains collect that past in receptacles we call associative memory. It’s called that because the memories come to life for us in association with something else. Makes sense, right? Sometimes you don’t have a clue as to why a memory became associated with something. Other times it’s more obvious like in the case of a warning.  Maybe the last time you picked up something red it was hot and you were burned so now anything warm in a red cup is suspect or on the avoid list.  It‘s not just the fact that it’s a red cup, it’s the warmth associated with the red that triggers the warning signals. This has its pluses and minuses. Sometimes we don’t want our favorite piece of music to remind us of a bad date every time we hear it just because we had the unfortunate luck of it playing in the background that night when we realized how bad bad was.

Along these lines, I had a client who associated speed in cars with the ambulance that rushed her to the hospital when she was a child. An open road felt like life or death to her. She was lead foot on that gas pedal despite almost having her license revoked for being issued so many speeding tickets in a given year.

But as life would have it, there is a flipside to associative memory. You can re-associate it with something else you like better. Every teenager knows this re-patterning technique: wore green sweater when he or she broke up with you, first chance you get you wear the same sweater out with your friends to an awesome concert. You do that a couple times…Viola, the sweater now holds positive associations again. With my client and her speeding car, we re-associated driving and the need to get somewhere with safety, road safety for her and those around her and—Viola, she hung up her racing stripes and had a lot more available spending money.

It works the same way with any kind of trauma. Obviously, it can take a little more re-enforcing and then there’s letting go of other issues around the trauma like fear, sadness, shame, but the fundamental process works the same. It makes things genuinely hopeful no matter what junk is left back there! If anyone tries this between past life associations let me know how it goes…