While it's easy to believe that just because it's over, past events will just go away, in reality things aren't always easy. High-impact experiences, especially traumatic ones, have the power to affect you on a neurological level, and leave imprints on your body and mind that can influence your behavior for years, even decades to come. The recollection of these events can affect you on a neurological and psychological level with or without your awareness. Learning how to live with the impact of these experiences can be very difficult, but not impossible, no matter how impactful they are. While learning how to get over the effects of painful memories takes time and effort, there will be a way for you to do it.
Method 1 of 3: Using Cognitive Effort
Step 1. Recognize the physical symptoms of emotional trauma
Sometimes, a highly impactful experience can leave a visible imprint on a person's physique that indicates emotional trauma. If you have any of these symptoms, it could be that the painful memory you have is related to an emotional trauma that affected your physical health. No one will react to a trauma in the same way, so it's important to consider your situation on an individual basis, perhaps in discussion with a mental health professional.
- Common physical symptoms of emotional trauma are difficulty sleeping due to insomnia or nightmares, pounding or irregular heartbeat, physical pain throughout the body, easily startled, feeling tired, difficulty concentrating, irritability, nervousness, and anxiety. tense muscles.
- These symptoms can be a sign of anxiety associated with painful past memories. Dealing with and learning how to manage the anxiety that arises can help reduce the effects of painful memories on daily life.
Step 2. Find out the impact
The first thing to know is how the impact of the painful memory is actually affecting your life right now. Because highly impactful experiences in the past can affect you at the most subtle neurological and psychological levels, you won't be able to realize how they affect your behavior in the present. Although all of your current behaviors and ideas are influenced by past behaviors, experiences that leave painful memories often affect you more than any other experience.
- For example, you may experience extreme anxiety near a lake because you almost died in the water, or you may avoid certain activities or locations that subconsciously remind you of a loved one. Whatever the case, learn how the painful memory can affect your life in the present to be able to deal with and incorporate its effects into your daily life.
- To find out how those memories affect you, record your reactions to certain things. Think back to any visible changes in you between the traumatic event and your current actions. If you're not sure you can see a change in yourself, ask those around you if they've noticed a change in your attitude that could indicate what part of your life the memory is impacting.
Step 3. Deal with the anxiety
Whenever you start to feel anxious in a situation that reminds you of a painful memory, confront your anxiety. Identify the memory and experiment with what happened rather than distance yourself from the situation. Psychologists have several different techniques for dealing with issues like this, but two similar and equally effective methods are mindsight and mindfulness. In any case, the goal is to learn how to pay attention to anxiety as it begins to emerge. When this happens, focus on aspects of the situation that you can control, such as your breathing, to slow down the situation until you don't feel overwhelmed anymore.
- Because breathing is one thing that can always be controlled, and is connected to various physiological processes in the body, learning to control it can be a good means of reducing anxiety. It can also help you become more aware of your surroundings in general.
- Do this alone for the first time. Start by inhaling slowly, holding it in, then exhaling equally slowly. Try to be aware of any sensations that occur when you control your breathing so that you can make connections between your anxiety and your breathing when dealing with other situations outside the home.
Step 4. Focus on the future
Living in the past and in painful memories is not healthy. You will never step forward and enjoy new things if your mind is always stuck in the past. This kind of rumination is associated with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and other issues. To stop brooding, take part in activities that can help you focus on the present and the future. Make plans for the weekend with friends, think about vacations you've saved, or think about career or life goals you haven't achieved. Anything positive will help you stay focused on forgetting the painful memory.
If you're still worried about changes you could have made in the past and relate to those memories, think about ways to avoid such occurrences in the future. If it's not under your control, think about how far you've come since then and focus on the positive aspects of your current or future endeavors
Method 2 of 3: Learning New Habits
Step 1. Start a journal
Writing something down is one of the most effective ways to help forget past painful events. Start writing about the past and present to learn more about the impact that painful memory has on you. Turning such experiences into narrative form can give you power over how you see these experiences as important in your life. It can also help you understand the emotions associated with the memory that may be difficult to comprehend.
- One day, sit down and write down all the experiences you can think of in as much detail as possible. This can help you combine the effects of painful memories for two reasons. First, it can make you see the connection between the situations in your life and the emotions within you. Second, writing can act like a cathartic experience that can give you a sense of creative freedom that can help you avoid feeling trapped in past events.
- If you're having trouble, start small by writing about what happened during the day. If you feel like connecting what happened to something that happened in the past, let the connection work without forcing your writing to be one-sided.
Step 2. Cultivate happy habits
To be able to help forget painful memories, work on making new, better memories and forming new habits. Painful memories can drain you if you spend too much time alone and ignore your intrinsic desire to connect with other people. Surround yourself with people and activities that bring you happiness. Humans are basically social creatures, so feeling satisfied or happy will involve interpersonal relationships with other people, especially relationships that involve touch or other forms of intimacy.
This doesn't mean you have to date anyone. It will take some effort within you to figure out what makes you truly happy. But once you've found an activity or group of people that makes you happy, try to reorganize your daily life to make the most of your time in such situations
Step 3. Create a varied routine
Getting stuck in a normal routine can give you too much time to dwell on the past. Try experimenting with your environment and social groups to mix up your routine about every two days, especially if you're feeling less than satisfied with your daily life. If you find yourself too preoccupied with painful memories of the past, perhaps you should push yourself out of your comfort zone and put yourself in an environment you've never been in before.
- If you constantly feel isolated from others and can't meet supportive people, maybe you should experiment with interacting with new people in unfamiliar situations. This will allow you to meet the right kind of people and may be able to support you in your favor. It may also help you to be less preoccupied with the past by providing interesting activities and people to pay attention to in the present.
- Try taking a mixed martial arts or yoga class. You can even take a walk in the park. The key is to position yourself in situations that are unfamiliar to you, or around people you've never met. Painful memories can be part of a psychological feedback loop that becomes part of daily routines and habits.
Method 3 of 3: Getting Help from Others
Step 1. Ask others for advice
If you feel like you need someone else's perspective or are having trouble distracting yourself, ask others if they've noticed any changes in you since the experience that left the painful memory occurred. This will take courage on your part because it may tell you something you don't want to know. However, other people, especially those closest to you, can often notice things that you are not.
Ask someone you trust, such as a good friend, sibling, parent, or trusted co-worker, while approaching them without any preconceptions
Step 2. Join a support group
If you can't find people to support you or you want to talk to someone who isn't your closest person or group of friends, try joining a support group that focuses on the type of problem you're dealing with. There are many groups like this out there that focus on a variety of issues, such as drug use, domestic violence, grieving the death of a loved one, or anxiety and depression.
There are online databases that can help find the right type of group for you. You can also ask your doctor or mental health professional for advice if you can't find it yourself
Step 3. See a mental health professional
If you can't deal with the painful memory on your own, find a mental health professional who specializes in trauma to help you deal with some of the issues. You can also become a professional help when painful memories are heavy on you. Mental health professionals, such as counselors or therapists, have been trained in suggesting skills for coping with problems or implementing therapeutic techniques that aim to help others be more productive or constructive in their daily lives, regardless of past painful experiences. There's nothing wrong with asking for help. Don't feel like a failure or embarrassed to ask for help.
If painful memories prevent you from performing daily activities the way you want, and if the pain associated with the experience doesn't heal with time, seeing a mental health professional can be very helpful. The expert can listen to your story and suggest some tricks for dealing with such issues. To help deal with painful memories that may be traumatic in daily life, mental health professionals can implement the techniques listed below
Step 4. Try cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT is a popular method for post-traumatic treatment. CBT is usually a short-term approach that focuses on issues of anxiety and depression, and the therapist will help you process your beliefs and thoughts. They will help organize your desires more functionally. CBT is more active than other types of therapy so it will take some effort to change your own behavior and thinking. The therapist will help you deal with some problems, provide exercises and remedies to do at home, and help you change your behavior completely.
Find a mental health professional who specializes in this method if you think it will have an effective impact on your current situation
Step 5. Ask about eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
Mental health professionals can also try EMDR. EMDR harnesses the body's natural reactions to past experiences by using eye movements to unlock memories and let you deal with them more easily. This method uses repetitive eye movements in conjunction with CBT to help trigger traumatic memories so you can deal with them instead of suppressing them. This method treats mental health in the same way as physical health. If you have a traumatic memory rooted in your mind, it will not heal quickly no matter how great your brain's natural healing abilities are.