New research has emerged that shows scientists have been able to remove memories from the brains of mice. This raises the possibility that you could one day pay to erase some, or even all of your memories. This has actually been put forward as a potential future treatment for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and addictions to drugs.
Now I agree that difficult, painful memories are problematic. In fact, I would say that memory is at once both our greatest gift and biggest curse. Our greatest gift in that there is nothing more joyful than something triggering a positive happy recollection from our past, a childhood game, a triumph, praise from our parents, the simple pleasure of a sunny day at the beach eating ice cream and splashing in the shallows, or remembering a loved one who has passed.
But the flip side is we remember all the hurt, all the pain, all the humiliation and shame from events in our past that inflicted wounds on our psyche. Cutting cruel words from a parent or teacher, teasing or bullying from our school peers, any and every mistake that we made that was held up for ridicule. Every wrong step, misdeed, misunderstood action; its all there in our memory vault, the pain just as fresh and sharp as the day it was first inflicted.
But, if you take those memories away, who are you without them?
Now, I’m not advocating that we leave people in pain from emotional recollections. I work in a healing capacity after all. And if most people are anything like me, things don’t just happen to you once. Lord, No! I used to keep bringing out my horde of painful memories and I’d inflict them on myself over and over again. Like I was polishing them up to make them even sharper, more cruel.
But every experience that hurt me has informed my life in some way. Every time I was hurt either through some thoughtless act of my own or by someone else, I learned from it. Not always in a good way, just because one person lets you down doesn’t mean you should shut yourself off from the whole world. Just saying!
However I wouldn’t like to lose my memories because they brought me to the good place I am in now, they made me the good person I am now and for that I am very, very grateful.
And I am not saying just leave the pain, the trauma, the hurt, the humiliation, the shame all there in our memory vault.
Painful memories are like a jail we create in our own minds, a jail that is even more imposing than the most high security, maximum threat prison ever. They keep us trapped in a loop of pain, leaching away happiness until all we see and feel are our very worst memories and feelings.
That happened to me, where I barely remembered anything good from my childhood, instead it seemed like my whole childhood was all about the bullying and criticism I got from those who should have loved and cherished me, who should have instilled confidence and self belief in me instead of fear of rejection and a belief that I wasn’t good enough.
Being stuck in this painful memory loop sucks away our life and vitality, as we endlessly replay the worst things that have ever happened to us.
And this becomes our reality. Living with unresolved trauma under the strain of chronic stress, our nervous system is constantly highjacked by the survival responses (Fight/Flight/Freeze) that have been mobilized to protect us from a threat long gone.
What I am saying is, take the pain away from the memories, desensitise the experience.
And I’d like to know what happens if you take away the memories without dealing with the emotions attached to them?
Because, in truth, the problem isn’t the memory of what happened in the past; the problem is the hurt and pain attached to what happened. The emotions that arose when it happened, that still arise when you remembered what happened. That’s what needs to be removed, rather than the events themselves.
Take away the events and the emotions are left bouncing around in our minds without an anchor and we have no idea what damage that could cause to our physical and emotional health.
Remove the emotional anchor and let that memory, whatever it is, however many there are become just one more event that informed your life but no longer defines you.
That’s what’s important, that you no longer feel the pain, betrayal, bitterness, shame, humiliation. Not that you no longer remember the events but that the events are just things that happened to you back then and no longer matter.
And then this event no longer defines you. You learn from it and move on.
So, how do you do that? Well, there’s lots of ways to do it. Hard ways, methods that can take years and years, or the one fast and easy way that I know of.
I went with fast and easy, because that’s how I like things to work for me. Well, I didn’t at first. I must admit I went with so many methods that didn’t work, were taking too long or were just too damn painful to work through. And there are some excellent methods out there. You can go for psychotherapy, you can use meditation, you can use EFT. There are many excellent methods of releasing stuck emotions tied to memory, I’ve used them and I loved them at the time because I felt that at least I was doing something to free myself from the pain but they do take time, some more than others.
What worked fast and easy for me was hypnotherapy. It’s one of the reasons why I trained to be a clinical hypnotist myself, so I could give other people the incredible healing that I experienced. The weight of years of emotional pain, trauma, self harm caused by excruciating childhood memories is now gone. I can remember those events and see their impact on me but what I have now is the space in my heart to acknowledge the love and care I also received from the very same people who hurt me. I couldn’t have done that before, I actually didn’t even see it.
The problem isn’t our memories, its the emotions with which we have anchored those memories in our psyche. Removing the memories really isn’t the answer. To me this is so similar to taking drugs, prescribed or otherwise, to try to overcome depression or mental illness. Its a suppression technique. A treatment for symptoms not cause.
Instead we have to acknowledge what happened, understand that it wasn’t anything to do with us personally, to allow our feelings, release them and finally be free of them.
Anger Release and Forgiveness Hypnotherapy – Recommended by me for anyone who is holding on to old sh!t that happened. One of the best things you could ever do for yourself. I know, because I did it.