A life shrinks because of traumas. A trauma is an unpleasant experience you have forgotten. If you say you remember a trauma of yours, it is not a trauma, but a scar. And scars, as bad as they may be, don’t make your life shrink. They can make you feel sad when you think about them. They make you feel angry, or scared, or proud, but don’t reduce the amount of your chances in your world. Traumas do, exactly because you have forgotten them.
Forgetting is a very complicated operation – and a very disadvantageous one. Children are not able to forget. A child’s mind is like a big room with very little furniture. When something happens to a child, he or she “puts it” somewhere in that big room and can easily find it when they want. You certainly have noticed how little children remember every detail of a fairy tale. They simply have to look around in their mental room, and they immediately find every detail they need. (For the rest of this story, I will use “she” for simplicity, although everything applies to both girls and boys.)
Then one day, something bad happens: something related to daddy, or mommy, or both. Daddy or mommy behave in a way the child does not appreciate, or even worse – they let the little child down. The child understands that daddy or mommy, or both, are not those wonderful people she believed they were. The child has to choose: if she remembers what happened, her relationship with daddy or mommy will worsen. If she manages to cancel what was remembered, everything will be as before. What would you do?
To cancel that painful experience, the child puts the memory in a corner of her mental room and ORDERS HERSELF never to look in that corner. She discovers that is not difficult at all. She only has to obey that order, and the mental room will be beautiful again, and so too her relationship with daddy or mommy. She just lost a part of her world. But there is a lot of world left. The problem is that the child has LEARNED TO FORGET. And she will do it again and again, ordering herself not to look in many other places in her mental room. And her mind will shrink, and her life too. That is why a lot of adults have a very little mental room, and very little lives too, in a wide world.