While one can form memories that are pleasurable and remind them of moments that were special and uplifting, it is also possible for one to have memories that are painful. And these will remind them of moments that were stressful and even traumatic.
This is part of life and there is unlikely to be anyone on this planet who only has memories that are pleasurable or simply neutral. That is unless one is emotionally numb and therefore can’t feel pleasure or pain.
But with that aside, if one was to only have good experiences, they would soon lose their impact. One would no longer have the experiences that were ‘bad’ to create a sense of perspective in their life. It is the bad experiences that allow one to have greater appreciation for the ‘good’ experiences.
So as life is not perfect and consists of experiences that are not always uplifting, one is going to have memories that they would rather not have. Having the memories is not a problem per se, what is the problem is when they remain emotionally charged.
When something painful happens, one is going to have a certain emotional experience. This will be partly based on what happens and on their interpretation of what happens. If one allows themselves to process the feelings that arise, the memory will lose its charge over time.
However, if ones emotional experience is not processed and their feelings get pushed out of their awareness, the memories emotional charge will remain. This is unlikely to be something that happens consciously; it could just happen naturally.
The mind will use different defence mechanisms to protect one from the emotional pain that arises. The emotions will then stay in one’s body and the mind can become disconnected from them.
One reason this pain becomes pashed out of one’s awareness is because it is too overwhelming for them to handle. This is then the only option available and the one action that allows them to handle what happens.
It could be that there was no support around or if there were people around, perhaps it wasn’t acceptable for them to reveal what they were going through. The conclusion was made that is wasnt safe for them to embrace their feelings.
And if the people around them were supportive, what can still get in the way is if one doesn’t feel comfortable with their emotions. It then won’t matter who is around, as one will stop themselves from allowing their emotions to come to the surface.
Painful memories can be the result of one having experiences that were extremely traumatic and shook one to their very core. This could relate to: abuse as a child and/or as an adult; a car accident; the loss of a family member, pet or friend; the ending of a relationship or a job loss for example.
And as each and every one of us is different, it means that not everyone is going to react in the same way. One person could experience a loss or have a certain experience without too much trouble; whereas if this were to happen to another person, it could have a far greater impact.
This could be due to one person being more emotionally stable than the other for instance. How nurturing their childhood was can also have an effect on how emotionally resilient they are and therefore influence how they respond to experiences.
If one is carrying emotional pain form their childhood or from a later experience that was painful, this could make it harder for them to cope with what happens to them.
But no matter what happened in the past, in order for one to take charge of how they feel and not to allow their memories to take control, they will need to processes their feelings. If they are left and not dealt with, one will continue to be haunted by what happened – no matter how long ago the experience was.
When the experience occurred, it might not have been possible to face how one felt. And even though time has passed, one might still find it difficult to face how they feel. One could be in touch with how they feel or they could have become numb.
This is why it is important for one to reach out and to get the assistance that they need. To try and face ones feeling by themselves could be overwhelming. So it would be no surprise if one has done all they can to avoid them. This doesn't mean that one is weak or lacks courage; it is simply the result of their mind doing what it can to stop one from being overwhelmed.
The kind of assistance that someone needs, can depend on how emotionally charged their memories are. A therapist or healer, who can allow one to face their emotions and gradually release them, might be the best option.
However, the most important thing is that one reaches out for help and doesn't allow their past to control their life any longer.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.