How to Cope With Painful Memories

Do painful memories intrude on your life?
Are you being tortured by flashbacks from your past? Do you have intrusive memories like these:

Times when you did something you regretted, that you wish you could just delete, cancel or re-do. How many times you wish you had never done that or reacted that way!
Times when you were abused or bullied. At the time you had no idea how it was impacting you. Now the recurrent painful memories make you feel like you’ve been scarred for life emotionally. When will the hurt ever end?
Times when you were physically abused, and didn’t know how to defend yourself. You relive it over and over. Sometimes, it feels like you’re fighting for your life.
Times when you become a lost, scared, crying child again. No one knows your secret life–hidden from everyone except your inner child.
Times when you fume with anger about how no one loved you, believed you, or would intervene to help. It eats away at you. You battle self-esteem issues. You sometimes hurt yourself and others.

What Can You Do to Ease the Pain?

When the thoughts come, and the movie begins, here’s what to do.

* Let it play.
* Turn off the sound and take out the color.
* Mentally, step out of the picture, and watch the action from the sidelines.
* Watch it dispassionately, as it plays out, silently, in black and white.
* While watching it, breathe deeply and release the tension in your body.
* Acknowledge what is happening without fretting, feeling bitterness, anger, resentment or regret.
* Don’t judge anyone in the movie, including yourself.

Click off any emotional connection that you may be feeling and just watch.

Laying Down New Movie Tracks

1. How would you have liked that movie from your past to have played out? Calmly, think about the painful memories.
2. Then, without any feeling, take each frame, each point of hurt, and change it in your mind, as much as you can allow yourself.
3. Neutralize each scene, in slow motion if you need to.
4. Each time it returns, continue changing it by playing it out in a less hurtful way.
5. As you do this, you are laying down new tracks in your brain, and your emotions.

Research has shown that the mind will accept this reorganizing as real. And as a result you’ll have access to more energy, more enthusiasm now. Your coping skills will improve. The anger, frustration and irritability in your life will subside.

What Are You Aiming For By Doing This?

– to be able to mentally accept, ‘without judgment’, that these events happened in your past
– to be able to watch the mental movie of it without feeling emotionally caught up
– to stop draining the energy you need to function in your life now
– to eventually be free, to think of it less and less, until it no longer shows up.

How to Use Creative Visualization to Make These Changes

Today’s athletes in training are using “Creative Visualization” to focus the mind. And they are accomplishing feats they thought were impossible, physically, psychologically and emotionally. Using the mind–the imagination, they train their muscles, their feelings, and re-work their physical routine, by imaging the performance they are trying to achieve, as they want to see it being played out on the field. While sitting quietly, they feel the exhilaration, they see themselves running toward the bar, rising into the air, and gliding over it.

The mind and body go through the motions in sync, as they repeat the routine, doing it faster, smoother, more efficiently. As they do this, the body is actually in training. The muscles are encoding the effortless routine. Finally, on the field, they find themselves reaching what they could never have attained by mere physical practice.

Healing Yourself of Painful Memories

You can use this method to reframe every moment of those flashbacks. Create a new, vibrant movie to substitute for the old, to run in its place. Return as often as you wish, altering it at your own pace. As you do this, your heart, your emotions, your physical body are all being healed by the changes you are imagining.

You can imagine yourself being rescued. Your older, wiser self can go back and rescue you in that scene from the past. You can reach down and lift up that tiny child and hold her, give her what you know she needs, and reassure her, that you will take care of her from now on. Ah, how good it feels!

“Is It Cheating, to Change Events With Your Mind, When They Didn’t Really Happen Like That?”

What we are doing is changing “our experience” of past events in our imagination. We cannot alter the actual events themselves, only “the way we perceive them”.

Doing this frees you from being caught in an endless loop of emotional turmoil, that undermines everything you do in your present life. You now have a tool that can help you minimize the impact of the past on your current life.

For a more detailed explanation of how this works see: Making Peace With Your Past. This post also explains how to heal regrets about past relationships with loved ones who have passed over.

New Hope for Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Painful Memories

You decide. Who are you really cheating, if you don’t use everything in your power to heal yourself. Do you really want to keep replaying those old movies? Knowing that your body, your emotions cannot tell the difference between what you experienced so long ago, and what your mind is re-experiencing now, allows you to make these changes.

Take responsibility for how your life will happen from now on. Forgive yourself and release any ties with those who were involved. Next time a flashback of painful memories starts running in your mind, suspend all judgment, and relax as you become the director in remaking the movie of that portion of your life.

Related Blog Posts
Can Post Traumatic Stress Be Healed?
Living With Soul Loss
Releasing Fear From Your Life
4 Strategies to Deflect Worry in Your Life
Achieving Stillness and Peace in Your Mind and Heart
How to Be Happy
Making Peace with Your Past