What does Shiela and Martin have in common? They both experienced a specific event that has affected their life ever since. Such events can be large or small, like Shiela’s mugging, or Martin’s social humiliation. These events are repeated in their minds over and over, still upsetting them, even though decades have passed.
Why? And what can be done?
Bad memories keep coming up again and again because they are actually unsettled disputes.
Bad memories have a lot in common with grudges – they centre around an injustice where someone has either treated you badly or failed to do something they should have done. The “someone” you have the dispute with is usually a person (like a parent or friend), or an institution (like a school), but sometimes your dispute can be with fate, luck, life, God, or even yourself.
For example, if the bad memory is of someone being nasty and shouting at you, the dispute is with that person.
However, if the bad memory is of losing someone in death, the dispute could be with yourself (self-blame), with the hospital, with fate, with God for allowing it to happen, or even with the dead person for leaving you.
These memories are not forgotten because the dispute is not resolved or settled. Yes, your dispute is still on-going, like an argument that has not ended. That’s why many bad memories can still upset you — even if it was 20 or 30 years ago! The “argument” is still happening, even if you’re the only one still arguing.
What stops us from resolving such disputes (and forgetting these bad memories)? Because of one (or more) of these reasons:
You may only be aware of one or two of the ways that a dispute upsets you. If you don’t know about all the ways, how could you resolve the dispute? It may keep acting in the background, nagging you to resolve it.
When Shiela was mugged she thought it just made her feel vulnerable around men, and that’s true, it did. She thought that if she simply kept her distance from men, she might be able to cope. However, she didn’t realise that because the mugging tapped into another childhood issue, it also made her feel “useless” – like she wasn’t good enough as a wife and mother. So even if she never met another man again, or kept a gun in her purse, it would not address the issue of her feeling “useless”.
Isn’t it frustrating to be accused of something you didn’t do? Well, similarly, if you are treated badly by someone, and you don’t know why, it can be just as frustrating. Why did he do that? Why does it always happen to me? And so on. These feelings will continue to nag you; and just saying “He was an asshole!” will not help you know why. It will not help you to see things from the other person’s perspective and understand their motivations.
Martin was definitely embarrassed when he was insulted in front of everyone, so over the years he has tried to not to be so easily embarrassed, adopting an attitude of “I don’t care what others think of me”. Yet was that really the issue? No! He actually wanted to feel accepted. The insult “confirmed” that he was not acceptable to others. Therefore, trying to “not care what others think” will do nothing to help him feel acceptable.
To overcome a bad memory you must first:
But how does one gain this understanding? There are several ways to do it.
Tell another person what happened
Write a letter
Imagine talking to them
Imagine things from the perspective of the other person
Look at old photos or visit related places
Perform Self-Rewiring sessions on the memories
Self-Rewiring sessions use various methods to help you understand how a memory made you feel, why it happened, and what you really wanted. A session can greatly reduce the emotional power of a bad memory, or dispute.
You can learn how to perform Self-Rewiring sessions from the free tutorial.
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