Wouldn’t it be nice if you could erase all the bad memories that you have inside you? Why do these painful memories haunt you and cause you pain weeks, months, or decades later?
According to research published by the National Institute of Medicine, there are ways to help you get over the past. The truth is that your memory is not the most reliable thing, and you tend to add to the drama of the situation as time goes on.
For instance, assume you went to a birthday party as a child that didn’t turn out so well. Another child at the event told you that your nose was too big. As a result, you became self-conscious about your nose and vowed to change it one day.
The research on memories shows that they become altered when you bring up these events. The process changes the memory as the brain brings it to the forefront. It becomes effortless to embellish or distort the events, making matters worse.
If the memory is a bad one you need to heal from, dredging it up from your memory bank can intensify the trauma. So, if you remember the feelings of inadequacy and fearing you were an ugly duckling, you can take an instance such as a child picking on you and morph it into an overall body issue.
Consider another example. Assume you’re an aspiring actor that wants the lead role in a musical. You’ve practiced your song 100 times, and you’re ready for the audition.
Sadly, you show up to the event, and the piano player has you in the wrong key. When you insist it’s too high, they ensure it’s the key that they need you to sing in. As a result, you struggle and hit some flat notes trying to reach the high points.
When you failed the audition, you vowed never to get in front of people and sing again. Now, the painful memory of this event affects you when you must speak in front of the board or to customers at work, as it’s developed into social anxiety. The real problem is each time you recall the event. Your mind has made it worse than it was.
Fifteen Ways to Edit Memories
Further research has shown that it’s in the third person when you recall a memory. You look at these painful memories as a narrator of a story. It would help if you did some work on your memory bank to change the negative experiences into more positive ones.
Thankfully, there is a way to get through these painful memories. While you can’t rewrite history, you can get through it by doing the following things.
1. Live in the Present
First and foremost, the best way to handle such issues is to live in the present. There’s an old story in the Bible found in Genesis 19. God was saving Lot and his wife from the wicked city of Sodom.
The only commandment he had for them was that they could never look back. Lot’s wife couldn’t resist turning around, and once she turned to see the city she left, she was turned into a pillar of salt.
Now, you’re not going to turn into a pillar of salt, but this story can show you that nothing is good from turning around to your past. You don’t live in that place anymore, so there’s no reason to keep revisiting it.
If you keep turning around and ruminating about the wrong stuff, you will miss the beautiful things right in front of you.
2. Make New Memories
The best way to get over the painful memories of the past is to replace them with new, better memories. Stop being fearful of the event holding you hostage and start living again.
3. Confront Your Demons
If someone has offended you, it’s time to tell them how they hurt you. It would help if you confronted the very things that have tied you emotionally for years. Once you do this, it can be very freeing.
4. Learn But Don’t Forget
Although many people pray for mental blocks to help them, you should take the learning experience from the situation. For instance, you will teach your children not to make fun of people or to learn how to roll with the punches in life. When you look at the events as a learning experience, it changes your perception.
5. Disrupt Your Tendency to Ruminate on Negative Memories
In life, your positive experience will always outweigh the negative ones. The mound of bad and painful memories will constantly grow quicker. Your mind can be compared to Velcro adhesive regarding your bad experiences, as they seem to stick to you.
However, the positive memories seem like a non-stick skillet where everything slides away with little effort. The key is never to suppress painful memories but instead promote more positive ones.
6. Forgive Yourself and Others
To get over a mountain, you must first climb the steep incline. In this situation, the trek includes forgiving those that hurt you and yourself.
Meditation is a great tool when dealing with memories that are overwhelming you. In this Zen state, you can purge your mind from negativity. Stop trying to resolve things out of your control. Learn to let go and gain the ultimate comfort.
Counseling is an effective way to talk about the events of your life that define you. The negative experiences are the ones that can cripple you, and a counselor can give you a third-party objective view.
9. Make The Choice to Forget
Did you know that you have the power to forget the memories that are so painful to you? Research shows that you can suppress the things that cause you discomfort. Science Daily shows that you can choose to hide the memories that have become a crutch in your life if you choose to do so.
When painful memories are too hard to talk about out loud, sometimes it’s best to put them down on paper. The key is to release these toxic things holding you back, and journaling is an excellent avenue to help heal the past.
11. Cut Ties with Toxic People
The past still haunts you because the person involved in those incidents is still in your life. Sometimes, it’s important to cut ties with the past so that you can heal from it. This is especially true in toxic or abusive relationships.
12. Divert Your Mind
Every time you start having negative thoughts about the past or your mind goes to that hostile place, combat it with a diversion. This is a great trick for those who suffer from anxiety too. When you start remembering the feelings and events that happened, divert the thoughts with something more pleasant.
For instance, if you keep remembering standing on that stage auditioning and feeling like a fool, why don’t you recognize the time that you nailed your lead at a board meeting. Using the power of positivity and diversion tactics can change your life.
13. Restart Old Hobbies
If your hobby was signing or being in show business, you might be inclined to give it up after being so hurt after a bad audition. Why do people abandon the things they love after one mishap? The key is to get back out there and prove that you can overcome what held you back.
When trouble comes, don’t abandon the ship so quickly. Get back up and fight another day.
14. Use Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations are an excellent way to change your mindset from negativity to more of a positive one. Start each morning by telling yourself that you can and will get over the things that have left a negative imprint on your heart. You can move forward when you learn to lay down your burdens.
15. Do A Vision Board
Vision boards are all the rage these days because they work so well. You need to acknowledge where you are now and where you need to be in the future. You can have fun with these boards and use them to chart your progress on issues and life in general.
Final Thoughts on Overcoming Painful Memories
There’s scarcely a person alive who doesn’t have some pain or trauma that they need to heal from. Why do some people move on with ease while others are stuck in a rut of rumination? The folks who learn to process the traumatic events and move on are the ones who fare better.
It’s time to overcome the things that have happened to you. Yesterday was the past, and you don’t live there anymore. You can and will conquer the painful memories that plague you when you learn to utilize practical tools to work through them.