Do you keep remembering a nasty or hurtful remark someone has made to you?
Or about you?
And it is playing in your mind over and over again.
That’s when memory isn’t working well for you.
What can be done?
We asked Dr Allison Lamont, PhD, memory expert, if it is possible to remove a bad memory like this.
Allison suggests this strategy.
- Be determined.
- Don’t allow that thought to play over and over, hurting you again each time.
- Acknowledge the hurtful memory, and say: ‘There it is again but I am not going with it today. I know where that thought is going.’
- Distract yourself with something much more positive.
True, it isn’t always easy to do but do persist.
“If you do this each time, the thought will be lessen and will eventually fade away. Eventually you’ll be able to greet the person who made the remark without the flood of negative emotions and thoughts that originally came with the remark.”
Allison calls this calls active forgetting.
‘You are forgetting to remember it every day. And if you do recall what happened to you, you will have let go the emotion that used to be part of the story.”
When you find yourself going back to the bad memory:
- Acknowledge that hurtful thought is there again
- Remember it is just a thought! A very familiar and unwanted one.
- Don’t focus on the thought – that gives the memory strength and power
- Take control – ‘I am not going to give it any space at all right now.’
Read the full published story here: https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/well-good/teach-me/112346328/dr-allison-lamont-teaches-clients-how-to-forget-their-worst-memories
Dr Allison Lamont, PhD Auckland Memory Clinic
Do you have other suggestions or comments you would like to share with readers?
This is very good advice, I do this and it works. I use my journal too, to release things that trouble me.
A technique someone shared with me is to have a positive memory that involves the person the bad memory is attached to and really be able to picture that memory vividly in your mind. When the bad memory pops up, minimise it like you would as if it were a picture on your computer screen and allow the positive picture to be in full screen. This really works for me!
Yes I had bad memory that kept coming back , so I said to it “ you are just a full moon feeling” and I could dismiss it. I tend to get bad memories during the full moon.
Luke 6: 27 says……do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
I find when hard done by, I have the weight of that person pressing me down, but as soon as I pray a blessing on that person, I am freed from them, by doing good for what was meant to harm and upset me. It works every time. Thanks be to God.
That’s good advice Allison. I also find if someone has upset me I say to myself, “well, that’s ok, they don’ pay my rent”. and that really helps. Cheers, Annie
Rather than simply try to dismiss an unhelpful thought, I believe it is more effective to actively replace it with a more positive one.
my favourite method for preventing unwanted memories from repeating over and over, is to take a Bible verse that is just long enough to make you concentrate but not long enough to make you give up. And every time that thought surfaces you say out loud, if possible, that verse. Gradually this will overcome the bad thoughts. Takes a few days but in a week it should be fully effective. My example verse,…Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. in all They ways acknowledge Him and HE WILL direct Thy paths!
Forgiving people goes a long way to forgetting the hurt I have found trying to imagine what their heart motive was.
Diana, That’s interesting. It is all too easy to decide someone has a negative motive when they say something hurtful to us. Often it is frustration or a reflection of what is going on for them at the time rather than deliberate. Whatever helps us to separate from the troubling thought is a good strategy!
Jocelyn, That’s an effective way to replace the thinking about the hurtful words, by replacing them with the positive words.
Janet, This seems to be a matter of personal preference. A lot of people do find it helpful to replace the thought – others just to develop the ability to simply separate from the thought. And some find it useful to tell the thought: “I’m not going down that track today – I know where it leads”.
Annie, Your strategy does bring a smile. And a smile helps to dissipate the hurt feelings.
Juliette, Often the person is having a bad moment themselves. It is certainly helpful to think well of them, rather than dwelling in the hurt feelings.
Mary, That is a good way of acknowledging it is a thought that passes – just like the full moon.
Bev, What a wonderful mind picture your strategy brings to mind. It is a very vivid way to picture minimising the ‘bad’ thought and replacing it with something much more positive. I will try that, too.
Leonie, Journaling is a great tool, Leonie. Writing down troubling thoughts and then firmly shutting the book does help you to keep it out of your head space.
Thankyou for all the positive ways to deal with a bad memory – a family member is going through a very bad time and is being particularly hurtful. Your many strategies are a blessing – thank you
I was thrilled to read this little gem of advice. Not only for the little hurts in one’s life but maybe an application for any general worry or anxiety. It is a great tool I am going to cultivate, and I am sure will lead to more personal freedom, forgiveness and peace of mind. Such a lovely space to strive for don’t you think – a letting go process.
Actually I was even more thrilled when I picked up the Saturday’s Press, 03/05/2019, and read a more detailed version in the weekend edition!! I have carefully removed the article and placed in a pasted-down envelope at the back of my book, “7-day Brain Boost Plan”, (Becoming now a little autobiography) which for me, because of this subjectivity, brings more meaning to a book. It is sitting up there now amongst the pasted-down envelopes with Helen Keller, Anne Frank and Thomas Edison to name a few.
Thanks for that inspiration. Will share with my friends.
Thank you, Mary. And here is a link to the article featuring Dr Allison Lamont in case any of our readers would also like to read the full article. https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/well-good/teach-me/112346328/dr-allison-lamont-teaches-clients-how-to-forget-their-worst-memories
Slightly off centre but when someone says something hurtful and totally unexpected, often with no truth in it, what is the best response, if any?
Thank you, Pamela. It is a good question, and one that comes up all too often. Firstly, I think it is good to check it out “Oh, that sounds a bit harsh – is that what you really meant?” Sometimes it isn’t and the person has the chance to back off the quick comment. It can be it came out differently to what they meant to say. If not, and they reaffirm the hurtful comment it is the most important thing of all not to take it ‘on board’. Just because someone says it, it doesn’t make it true. It can take the sting out of it a bit to think something like “Whew, something has her riled up at the moment, but it’s not true and I simply am not giving it any of my thought space”. If one can then just refuse to engage with it again when it comes to mind, it is astonishing how it can disappear. If we choose to ruminate on the unfairness, we are just creating a strong and durable neural pathway to something that was never true in the first place, and which can build resentment and bitterness we can well do without. There may come a time to address it with the person when everything has calmed down.