Sit down quietly by yourself for an hour or two and start making a list of all the events you can remember in your life where you felt negative emotion (fear, terror, anger, guilt, loss, despair, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, abandonment, etc).
For each event, write your age, a VERY BRIEF headline, the feelings you remember having at the time, and the strength of the feelings on a scale of 1 to 10. (1 = small feeling, 10 = overwhelming feeling).
- age 7, sister was mean to me at birthday party, angry (8), abandoned (9).
- age 15, accidentally killed a fairy, guilty (10)
- age 22, abducted by aliens, helpless/hopeless (9)
- age 28, panic attack at home, terrified/scared (10)
DON’T SPEND MORE THAN AN HOUR OR SO ON THIS.
IF YOU GET EMOTIONALLY OVERWHELMED AT ANY TIME: 1) STOP, 2) WIGGLE YOUR TOES, 3) GO SMELL THE FLOWERS.
IT’S OK TO KEEP STUFF PRIVATE. If you want to keep a particular event private, just give it a codename that means EVERYTHING to you but NOTHING to me. Examples: “The towel incident” or “Highway 36” or “XJ24” or “Gary”.
- Start before birth and at birth. What’s going on with parents? Are parents around?
- How siblings felt about you, how they treated you
- First experiences, list what you can remember
- Any sexual abuse, your first sexual experience
- Emotional or physical abuse and traumas
- School experiences, issues with teachers, classmates, etc.
- Major moves, changing schools
- Deaths of pets, pet injuries, losses
- Any romantic relationships, especially first boyfriend/girlfriend
- Pivotal points in life with parents, siblings, kids, bosses, co-workers, whoever.
- Divorce, relationship breakups, broken friendships
- Deaths, miscarriages, grief & loss, loss of job, loss of health
- All hurts, anything you felt bad about when it happened
- All major medical illness, chronic illness, other medical problems. All bad experiences with therapists/psychologists/psychiatrists/life coaches/children’s party clowns/social workers/caregivers/doctors/nurses/hospitals/medical system.
- Accidents & injuries, physical traumas
- Fears/phobias, eg. fear of fire, fear of smoke, (list each experience to support the fear)
- Worries and fights about money
- War traumas
Yes, it’s normal to end up with lots of events on your list.
Email your list to me. DON’T send me a document or spreadsheet, don’t worry about formatting. Just copy and paste straight into an email: