Healing, restoration and wholeness.

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  • Pepper Pratt, Ph.D.

Just Deal With It...but how?

Everybody says, "deal with it" and yet that is hard to know when we have arrived.


Bad things happen. While not all bad things have a huge impact, we would be short-sighted to believe that intense events of distress do not change the way we think, relate to others and make decisions. I call these experiences shaping events. Shaping events are moments that happen that are deal-breaking or deal-making. Life was one wayon one side of the shaping event and everything changedafter the shaping event. Surviving these moments forms patterns in our internal operating system that determine the way we see the world and run our lives. If we don’t “deal with” these shaping events, the patterns are like open apps on our phones. You know—double click your home button and you will see all the apps you have used and not closed out running quietly in the background. I just closed out apps yesterday, but double clicking my home button just now, I discovered twenty-eightapps open! What are they doing? Slowing down my processing and draining my battery. Shaping moments, left undealt with, can have the same effect and we wonder why we move slow and feel drained….


So, how can we close these shaping moments out? How can we “deal with it”? How do we “let go and move on”? Well, first we must consider that we will not forgetthese shaping events. Ever. Even if we try to, pretend to, hope to and will to. So, we are left to consider the fallout. It’s not all bad, mind you, because some of the skill-sets that allow us to do brilliant things may have very well been formed out of survival patterns from shaping events. But, there is also an underbelly to the fallout. There are also times we do things that cause problems for us and we don’t understand why we do those things. Here are four keys to get you started toward letting go and moving on.


Tell the Story. Shaping events have a story. We rarely remember actual truth, but we remember what seemed true to us in the moment, a story. Writing the story is a good place to start. Why write? Well, there is a different part of our brains that are engaged when we write as opposed to just relating the story off-the-cuff. We get to the scene of the crime, ground-zero and resist the temptation to stay at twenty-thousand feet. Emotionally, prepare to even relive some of the sights, sounds, smells and emotions of the event as you write. It may not be pleasant to write, but it IS important.


Share the Story. It is in the presence of others that we most often find healing. Many of us live our lives minimizing the impact of a shaping event because it seemed normal at the time. To see someone’s jaw drop, aghast as I read about abuse or to see someone’s tears who offers the care I may have been missing in the shaping event is a game-changer. When a story is shared, even the most terrifying moments where it seemed I was very alone…changes. I am now joined by those with whom I have shared the story. And there is some comfort in that.


Discover the Moral to the Story. Moral, meaning, themes, patterns, conclusions. Pain is most damaging when it is wasted. However, boldly approaching the pain of my past with the dogged determination that it was not in vain and that there are things of great value to be learned, then, it has not been wasted. I discover the strengths and survival skills I developed to get through the shaping event. And, I learn about the underbelly of those habits when they are expressed blindly in ways that may not be very effective for me. I become awareof those apps that have been open and by discovering their meaning, in some ways, I am able to close them out. My battery is not as drained and my processing is no longer slowed. Delight is just around the corner!


Pick up the Pen and Write. When you have faced the pain of your past and the shaping moments that are a part of your operating system, you are now able to write the script of your life with more clarity. You are aware of desire, reacquainted with delight and the wounds of the past now have sutures that are holding and no longer impacting you unknowingly.


You have dealt with it. You are now ready to let go and move on.