THE BEANBAG PSYCHOLOGIST 05
The Time Cure
Many a sympathetic soul, at our time of distress, croons, “Oh! You will feel better in time!”, “You will get over it in time”, “Time is the best healer!”. If you had ever cried to a sibling or a parent over a friend who has moved to a different city, and they responded with “Don’t worry! You will stop missing her so badly in a few days!”, the chances that you felt better is less and felt unsure is more. After all, how can mere time heal deep hurt and disappointments? Can time really set our emotions right when we choose to sit and sulk and not DO anything about our situation?
With passage of time, we tend to forget details of a particular event and the whole memory diminishes in intensity and significance and hence we begin to regain our stability. This is one way in which time takes the credit for making us feel better!
Often times, an effective response that happens unconsciously to a painful experience such as loss and severe trauma is forgetting. Forgetting helps protect our peace of mind and functioning. By pushing disturbing memories into our unconscious mind, we are able to move on with life. But these hidden memories do have repercussions to our behaviours.
How often has a past difficulty seemed so much better when looked at from our present life situation? When our quality of life and relationships is better than it was in the past, we tend to discount the difficulties we faced earlier on as our perceptions are influenced by our current positive outlook. The opposite can also happen, when we look back and wonder how we ever got through such situations that seemed insurmountable then! In comparison to our present, the past may seem even more difficult than it actually was! Hence, more than just the duration of lapsed time, what we learn and understand about ourselves and our life values determine how much we heal.
In the heat of any moment, our intellect takes a back seat and our emotions become the ruling factors and it is in this moment of vulnerability that we say or do things which are not particularly well thought out! Once we get a little distance from the time of the emotion-provoking incident, our affective (emotional) reactions quiet down and our reasoning and thinking processes kick in, enabling us to engage in problem solving!
Time affords us with opportunities for self-reflection and analysis. It offers us the tool to moderate our extreme emotional reactions and biased thinking, as well as the opportunity for behaviour change to best suit our needs and visions for the future. It sure is a very effective healer provided we put in our share of effort too!
SANGEETHA MADHU & JYOTHI RAVICHANDRAN, THE HINDU IN SCHOOL