Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Coping with bad memories is not easy

Chasing away unpleasant memories is more like a dream of which chocolates delights are made.

Do you not wonder how it is that the memories of old that seem to stick out to the end are the unpleasant, hurtful ones?

Though memory comes with the territory of life, they are there one day and tomorrow they are forgotten, perhaps to be recalled at some later stage, usually triggered by something.
It is also apparent that some memories linger or recur often, most likely the traumatic ones.

There are people who, for the most part of their lives, are “haunted” by some hurtful, damaging memories and the emotions they dredge up. These memories, ranging from loss of a partner through death or separation, loss of a child, abuse, rape and dreadful acts which transpired at an early stage of one’s life tend to pop up at any time. Mostly, they do when one is stressed up or going through a difficult emotional phase.
An online source attributes this to how the brain functions.

“Bad memories often arise when our emotional state is already compromisedÔÇöwhen we are feeling down, stressed or fatigued. We tend to remember unpleasant things when we are already in a compromised mood because that’s how we were when they happened,” says a website, californiapsychics.com.
According to the website, a distressing memory might be experienced physically as aches, pains or fatigue.
“One explanation is that when an intense memory is activated, the brain sends signals via chemicals that are picked up by receptors found on the surface of our cells. The body may actually be capable of storing the chemical traces of memories in muscle tissue which, when stimulated, can activate strong emotions.”

Being held captive by one’s past is a horrific existence, whether one continues to constantly relive the past through flashbacks or being constantly haunted by occurrences from long ago. Such instances eventually impede on one’s health and happiness and lead to depression, and other psychological problems.

It is a good feeling to reminisce about the past and smile about the events that took place back then, we share them, laugh about them and, in most part, enjoy just thinking about them.
But it is not so for other people or with our other memories; once they recur, a person would try to shut them out because it is unbearable. Sometimes we are caught desperately wishing that we possessed some magical powers that would enable us to erase the events from our lives.

Maybe it is in this light we recognize that the memories we have are part of us, happy or sad, and they make us who we are in the end. Also, clich├®d as it may seem, the classical saying ‘time heals all wounds’ should be paid much due here.

A lot of men and women in life have come up with phrases to counter the saying.

One woman poet once said that, “time does heal wounds and leaves behind scars which everyday remind us of the wounds we once bore”.
Another woman, Rose Kennedy, matriarch of the Kennedys, expressed in her own right that, “It has been said that time heals all wounds. I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

However, other people have argued too that time does heal wounds, expressing more that it only does if you choose to take the right steps of living your life. In other words, by not choosing to hold on to your past, you are allowing time to pass and the wounds to heal.

A lot of us are faced with hiccups and traumas brought on by memories from the past, but it is rightful on our part that we should take charge of our current lives and let go of the past. Here are tips that should help you deal with the past:

Recognize that memory is history
We study history to learn about our world, and ourselves and, most importantly, to avoid repeating past mistakes. Without memory, we would repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Allow the past to be the past
Being mindful of the present moment can help you overcome the regret, grief or fear brought on by unpleasant memories.

Keep a journal
Writing out the thoughts, feelings and emotions can be therapeutic, helping you exorcise the memory or understand why it is affecting you.

Listen to what you are telling yourself
Traumatic memories engender negative thoughts. Try to replace these negative thoughts with more encouraging talk.
If a memory is haunting you, don’t be hard on yourself.
It may be a sign that you need more time to heal. Give yourself this time.

Face the memory
Sometimes going to a site associated with a difficult memory, whether it’s a grave, the scene where something bad happened, memorial site or church can aid in the healing process. Engaging in a private or public ritual can also be therapeutic. Ask a friend to help you if you don’t want to do it alone.

Know your own history
How have you coped with difficulties in the past? What worked and didn’t work? Avoid those things that didn’t work well, and consider whether or not the techniques that did work can be applied to your current situation.

Communicate
Ask for support from people who will listen and empathize. If you have limited support system, you might want to seek out a support group to share with people who have had similar experiences.

Get help if you think you need it
If you’re concerned that your reactions are interfering too much with your daily life, talk with a mental health professional. They may have ideas for coping that hadn’t occurred to you.
Additional reporting: californiapsychics.com

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.