This week on social media, a friend shared this question:

“Have you ever made a mistake in your work and internalized it to a point where you have flashbacks and makes you question your skills?

How do you handle it? What makes it better?”

Their question inspired me to write these seven steps to healing from a big mistake:

One: Imagine a competent protector.

Someone imagined or real, who loves you without condition, who has your back, and who is willing to be by your side in any circumstance.

Two: In your mind’s eye, travel back to the moment of the mistake with your competent protector.

Three: Ask your then-self for consent to be by their side. (If you don’t have consent, you can come back at another time, with a support person.)

Then, imagine that everyone / everything else is in protective bubbles.

Four: Turn toward your then-self with love and kindness.

Notice how your then-self responds to your presence. (Don’t expect or force any particular response.)

Five: With kindness and warmth, offer your then-self guesses about what they feel and need.

Like, “Do you feel alarmed aloneness, and do you wish people understood your positive intentions?”

Or, “Do you feel big shame, and wish you could rewind time and get a great big do-over?”

Or, “Do you feel really sad about the hurt you caused, and long for a world where we didn’t keep unintentionally stepping in hurt of each other?”

Six: Notice how your then-self responds to your guesses.

Look for a guess that resonates, a guess that your-then self responds to with a “Yes, you get me!” and feels a sense of relief or relaxation.

If you can’t find a guess that brings at least a bit of relief, know that intrusive memories are hallmarks of trauma.

And because trauma typically occurs in relation to other people, we often need support  from other people to heal.

Seven: Invite your then-self home with you.

They don’t need to live frozen in time. If they’d like, bring them back with you to the present time, and imagine them reintegrated into all that you are now.

I learned this time travel practice for healing trauma from my dear teacher, Sarah Peyton, and have found so much healing with it myself. You can learn more at sarahpeyton.com.

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