How to Deal with Template Images/Memories
September 11th 2001 - A day that the world will never forget.
Seeing the terrifying images repeated so many times - many not feeling able to turn away from their TV screens. The repetitive showing of the planes crashing into the buildings, and the mind`s ability to have empathy and horror at the thought of what it must have been like to be in the planes or the buildings. To hear the telephone calls from those who were being hostages to the terrorists suicidal plans, and to hear the very personal stories from the victims family members. Critical Incident Stress Debriefing teams were immediately called into action especially for the police, fire, and emergency personnel. Following this tragedy, my own experience demonstrated the power of the simplest technique. All my clients who have requested working on the trauma of September 11th have stated that the issue for them has been the inability to clear or dissipate the image of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center buildings. Just like the newspaper and magazine front covers, the image was for each client a particular frozen frame image. All were reporting an inability to sleep, increasing anxiety and loss of function in work, play or relationships. One had totally returned to major self-destructive behaviors, though many addiction experts might suggest this just provided the perfect reason for relapse. However, this was someone who had clearly and cleanly been on a healing path for a good period of time. The images had become what I refer to as `template` memories, which prevent the ability to tune-in to pleasant thoughts. This type of `template` memory can occur when someone has witnessed a loved one die in a painful way, such as wasting from cancer, and that memory dominates all others and doesn`t allow for the surfacing of the many pleasant pre-wasting images.
What was the simple technique? I just asked each of them to close their eyes and focus on that frozen image, and then to take two fingers of both hands and place them either side of the bridge of the nose and the beginning of the eyebrows (part of TFT trauma routine) and tap. After a few seconds they all reported that the images had "unfrozen" and was clearing, dissipating or just moving on. Each also noted a dramatic drop in the level of anxiety they`d felt when they first "tuned-in", and have since reported a return to a healthier homeostasis, but with a great deal of care, concern, and compassion about the September 11th terrorist attacks. As for the client who relapsed, he reports that his life is totally back on track again.
If this simple tapping technique does not seem effective in terms of clearing or dissipating the frozen image, then I will usually do what I call the `Inner Child Reclamation` exercise, which is detailed in my book (Rapid Recovery: Accelerated Information Processing & Healing).
The strongest or most dominant thought wins! We need to therefore stop giving the negative ones any life, power or control.
I`ve had some clients who have spent a great deal of time and energy trying to right some of the world`s wrongs, or trying to achieve some sense of fairness or justice in a particular arena, only to be consistently upset or deflated by the ongoing hurts and pain they feel as little or no progress appears to be made.
I believe it is necessary for us all to realize that as humans we will never correct all the injustices or unfairnesses in the world. This is not to suggest that we should not do whatever we can to rectify things. But we need to do so with conscious understanding that, if it is our calling, then it`s important to do what we feel we can, but to not have our spirit so totally invested in the outcome that we become dis-spirited, exhausted, and overwhelmed.
Although activity absorbs anxiety, it is ACTION that challenges beliefs.
"Exercise is the chain that links us to the Chariot of wellbeing. Wellbeing means happiness, but happiness is also an attitude, and the best attitude is one of gratitude." (Gerald Puls, Colorado. 75+ age group Ironman competitor)
(Stephen P. King - 2003)