What is the worst thing you’ve experienced? A bad decision that resulted in a high defeat, you opted out of a program when you should be showing persistence. You had a bad relationship that created a negative memory and any other poorly inspired decision. The good news to cling to is that you’re not alone!
Everyone has a moment in their past that they surely have to dust off and focus on the goal, irrespective of the previous unfortunate circumstances’ weight. Luckily, we are surrounded by a cloud of people who have experienced a similar past to the one you’re battling to forget, hoping someone could press a format button in your memory.
However, amazing people like Joyce Meyer, who had a relatively long history of abuse, Oprah Winfrey with a similar story of abuse, Nelson Mandela with a memorable history of segregation and discrimination, Martin Luther with a similar history of discrimination, and so many others who emerged from some kind of memorably depressing experiences.
In fact, a report shows that 16.7 million American adults report having a depressive episode in a given year due to a bad experience they’ll like to forget. You’re not the only one who has experienced such an ugly scenario, but your response defines you highly.
Making people forget the past has been such a crucial activity that the world of medicine has created drugs to help forget the past. While their effects can’t be disputed or argued, cognitive approaches to forget the past has been a more reliable approach.
Popular psychologist Sigmund Freud propounded a more controversial theory that states that the individual can deliberately block off certain unpleasant memories. However, such memories can still have subconscious influences on behavior. Though it was scientifically disregarded at the time it was suggested, Freud has been justified by recent scholars who have claimed it’s possible to deliberately forget the past by strong determinations and commitment.
Here are some cognitive approaches to help you forget the past.
1. Take responsibility for the situation
If you want to forget the past where you’ve encountered a bad experience, a humbling defeat, or a serious disappointment that you have trouble erasing from your memories, take responsibility for that event or situation.
Benjamin Franklin, a British philosopher, could not proceed further than ten years in acquiring formal education. The British philosopher also suffered an abusive relationship with his brother, who trained him as an apprentice. In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin refuted all the claims of hostility and even attributed the bad relationship with his brother to his sauciness.
If you want to forget your past, here are some methods to follow to take responsibility:
• Avoid the blame game
Psychology has found that people often enjoy taking credit when things go right or achieve a huge victory. However, it’s the other way round when things go wrong. Continuously laying blames on peoples’ role in your bad experience creates an atmosphere that makes it difficult for you to forget your past. Neutralize people from your blames but don’t forget their roles.
Sometimes, conserving some memories of the past may be crucial to sustaining future relationships. Understand the strength and weaknesses of people who played a role in your painful memory. However, don’t play the blame game to make yourself feel good. Not everyone who contributed negatively to your past had a bad intention. Some of them just may not have accurate information about the outcome or fail to recognize human uniqueness. Don’t get too critical of people’s roles in your lives. They may have disappointed in the past, but they could be keys to new doors.
This fact isn’t to preserve negative people who are a constant source of pain. It’s to take responsibility for the wrongs in your past and fail to find the positives from people.
If you wish to forget your past, you must involve yourself as the key player and recognize the fact that no other influence is worth the blame.
• Embrace forgiveness.
Sometimes, people’s roles in your sad past can be difficult to forgive, especially if it is a deliberate act of wickedness. Irrespective of the gravity of the action, forgiveness is crucial if you wish to forget the past.
After her troubling experience with her dad in her childhood, Joyce Meyer recounts that it was her strength to forgive that helped her move on to become a better person. Don’t find solace in blames. You’ll make it difficult to forget the past that way.
Embrace the willingness to forgive and let go of the pain. You’ll heal faster that way and forget your past easily.
2. Reconsider expressing your pain
If you’re struggling to forget the past, you may have to find a way to express yourself. The expression is a self-defined concept when it comes to painful experiences. Everyone has different ways of finding relief in expressions.
Some prefer to document their experiences in a diary or any other material they document their notable experiences. If this gives you relief, you should try it. However, if you want to forget your past, documenting the experience is in sharp contradiction to trying to forget the past. Your diary reminds you quite often how bad the decision is, and if you don’t have the emotional strength to bear, it breaks you down again.
Others prefer to express themselves by sharing their pains and disappointments with a friend. Even though sharing issues with a friend can provide immediate relief, it also has a devastating long term effect. However, a cost-benefit analysis is best if you have to resort to expressing yourself.
A sad past is not going to disappear by simply sharing with a friend. You have to make deliberate efforts to erase such memories. Expressions will always be a reminder of that experience. It could be useful if you’ve developed the mental fortitude to move on. In an Oprah Winfrey show, the talk show celebrity expressed her shock and disappointment when she heard her child’s story had been made public in 1991. Expressing your past could further compound your misery and make it difficult for you to forget your past. Build the mental strength before thinking about sharing with a friend or putting it down in the pages of a book.
3. Start a new activity
If you’re struggling to forget the past, trying a new activity could be the missing part of the puzzle. A study carried out by Nature Neuroscience found that old information is pushed out for new memories to form. The report shows that though the capacity of the information that the brain can store can not be explicitly defined, commitment to a particular activity can lead to a reduction in the effectiveness of the brain function in previous activities. However, the report fails to state the type of information the brain is likely to delete.
Irrespective of the brain function, it won’t be easy to forget the past, especially one associated with a lot of pain and agony. However, the more you commit to another activity, the more your mind gets distracted from the past, and your focus builds on the present. You may not forget the past, but it can be considered irrelevant if you commit so much to a new task.
Channel your energy to a new task and dust yourself off. You may find it difficult to forget the past, but you may soon create another thing that smiles at you and nullifies the effect of the past.
4. Don’t theorize your experience
You can’t claim a desire to forget your past yet generate theories from your painful experience. It’s okay to learn from your experience but don’t make your lessons a generalization. It will open the door to more pains.
Making a bad decision in a particular moment doesn’t mean you can’t make a better decision in a similar moment. Disappointed by a particular person doesn’t make a particular gender, tribe, or ethnicity evil. Don’t allow the legacy of your past into your future.
Disallow your previous experience from making you more judgemental of people’s character. If there’s anything you need to do to clear the vestige of your past, it’s avoiding the appearance of your past in the form of beliefs and values.
Irrespective of the quest to protect your natural values from being reshaped or redefined by your past experience, learn from your previous experiences and make necessary adjustments.
5. Be optimistic
If you want to forget your past, you must remain optimistic in your future decisions. Every route to pessimism links directly to your past memory. The thoughts about your previous experiences are the fastest route to being pessimistic. Make your decisions with more optimism, knowing you’re going to make more mistakes and more decisions will go wrong.
If you aim to forget your past, you must acknowledge your fallibility and the possibility of more mistakes; what you should avoid is a repeat of similar mistakes.
Remain optimistic even when the momentum is not right. A positive decision and a little victory could set the tone for you to forget your past.
If you’ve made some mistakes in your past, the last thing you need is to feed your ego with some superhuman thought. Allow yourself to heal and be optimistic in your decisions. Optimism can take your past into obscurity. A 2012 research by the University of Cambridge neuroscientist found that it is possible to substitute emotions. Replace the strong sense of pessimism that accompanies a sad past with a more optimistic feeling.
6. Face your past
Research conducted by a Swedish university found that the most effective way to treat phobias is by exposing the patient to whatever fear they have. The researchers found that as they continuously exposed the patients to their fears, they were spending more time with the fear and so began to adapt.
If your past haunts you, and you just can’t seem to forget the past, these couple of methods could help:
• Change your mindset.
It’s possible the reason you got so hurt and find it difficult to let the pain go was that you kept seeing the situations from a singular perspective. Assess your mindset and see if there was a better way to see the problems; perhaps you may find it easy to forget the past if you can see through it from a different standpoint. Pluralize your approach to understanding your past. The pain may stem from a poor or erroneous view of the scenario.
• Be soft on yourself.
Just before you hit the glass again or take another glass of alcohol, remember the fact that you’re not the only person who has made a mistake, a bad decision, or encounter a faith-shaking story. Let the story of others who rose from similar situations motivate you to forget your past and face reality. You may have been a victim of your standard but be soft on yourself. It’s only a common part of human nature to experience some strange moments when you make some rash decisions. Everyone makes a huge mistake too.
7. Consider a break
Considering a break is the easiest option when you’ve had a terrible experience, and you wish to forget the past. Despite being an easy option, it is only good enough to occupy seventh place in this article for some reasons.
• Breaks do not apply to every situation. You can’t have a break from work because you had a bad experience at work. That luxury isn’t available in a highly competitive labor market.
• Breaks may degenerate into depression. Suppose you’ve suffered a terrible experience from close relatives or families. In that case, you’ll realize how difficult it is to decide to isolate yourself from those people. In fact, trying to get a break from very close people may alleviate stress and result in depression.
• Breaks may lead to addiction and involvement in negative attitudes.
Just before you consider taking a break to forget your past, understand that breaks may increase your rate of taking alcohol, smoking, and depressing scenarios.
• Breaks can negatively affect your mental health. Taking a break from your past and the people around you can negatively affect your mental health.
Irrespective of its inherent problems, breaks can afford you the time to heal, but it is advisable to take breaks for isolation.
If you must take breaks because of a pain you suffered in the past, spend the time with someone who can afford you the space to heal.
8. Be accountable to a mentor
How many times have you been told life is not a bed of roses? Well, it looks like you need someone to consistently repeat that into your ears until your subconscious absorbs it and you rise above the pain. Rising above pain doesn’t mean you won’t be hurt or have adversely memorable moments. It means you will see the pain as a crucial part of your building progress. However, since you’ll find it difficult reading from here when you’re experiencing a hard time, you’ll need a mentor to recount that into your ears.
Your mentor is an experience you need to make major progress and overcome many challenges he’ll refer to as traditional obstacles because of his wealth of information and knowledge. If there is one man who can teach you the practical methods to escape hard times as he has done, it is your mentor. This is why selecting a mentor that is rich in experience becomes crucial.
Do Americans use mentors?
A survey conducted by the Nazarene University found that 77% of people agree that mentors are very important factors to success while also being important to forget the past. However, the report also found that only 37% have a mentor.
The survey also shows that 66% of the respondents report having a same-sex mentor that makes them understand how to guide their relationship and plans, most importantly, to make them forget the past. Also, the report shows that only 14% of people requested their mentor’s consent before the relationship became formal.
Normalize learning and associating with people from whose wealth of information you can pull some hopes and aspirations. If you already have a mentor, here are some things you should do:
• Have them talk about their challenges and let them show you how they solve them. This will improve your chances against the odds and help you forget the past easily when you approach difficult circumstances
• Resist the temptation of hiding your pains and fears from your mentor.
• Maintain your role as the boss. Nobody knows you better than you do, not even your mentor!
It’s not an easy task to forget the past. You may even have to wonder how important it is when we can just learn from those negative memories, pick the lessons we can derive, and use them in transforming ourselves to become a better person. Howbeit, a negative memory can alter the course of a well-defined life if its status is not properly relegated.
We at seeingthebrightside believe in self-development, improvement, and better performance. Check out some other highly recommended programs that will help you through the entire process.
- Free Audio To End Anxiety and Panic Attacks
- Morning Ritual: Start Living Everyday With Confidence, Passion & Energy!