Memories and visions of the past play a major part in the lives of each and everyone of us, many memories are positive and can give us a sense of wellbeing and identity. Sadly though the memories our minds choose to highlight to us are often not the ones we wish to keep. Bad memories of trauma, mistakes and regrets can plague a healthy mind. If these negative memories continue to haunt us, our mental health will suffer.
The premise of this article is to highlight the importance of managing your memories, you must become aware of your memories and become selective over the memories you wish to focus on. I know this sounds easier said than done, but as they say ‘practice makes perfect’. An unhealthy mind can lead us astray, if we are plagued with constant memories of darkness then we must start implementing plans to take control of our mind again.
Time is a train moving forwards not backwards
“Time is a train
Makes the future the past
Leaves you standing in the station
Your face pressed up against the glass”
U2- Zoo Station (Click to hear this song)
The above quoted lyrics from the U2 song ‘Zoo Station’ perfectly highlight the point I am trying to get across. The focus of this particular song is related to moving on in life and preparing yourself for a completely new attitude and approach to life. It highlights how life could be seen as a form of train journey. If you spend too much of your time focussing on the past then the train which is your future will keep passing you by, whilst you are remaining standing at the station not even noticing those trains passing you by.
In effect, your life no longer has a present moment or a future moment, only a past moment and you may find yourself completely stuck and unable to move on. Your daily life may be a repeating episode of recurring memories. You might feel like you are travelling down memory lane and unable to even think of anything beyond that.
Are my memories really as true as they might seem?
It’s important to start by understanding that you have the power to change how your mind operates, controlling memories is a form of self discipline and not one that is easily attained. You must start by understanding that memories in some cases are simply stories we tell ourselves. Yes, in some cases, the trauma really was as bad as you thought it was but at other times your mind can play tricks on you and over exaggerate minor issues into tragic and long lasting trauma. This links in with a previous post where I spoke about how everything you know may be wrong, we must question everything we think.
Take away the power from bad memories
When a bad memory arrives, ask yourself whether this event was really as bad as it seems, question the event and the details surrounding it. If the memory is tragic or heavy then we must learn to refocus the mind away from this and recognise that despite these bad events. These memories do not define us, the past does not define us and you can no longer do anything about the past even if you wish too. We must realise that we have the power in the present moment to begin a new life, become a new person and create new memories. We must realise that it’s important to focus on the present moment as much as we can. Only by doing things in the present can we create a new future, catch the train again and leave the past behind us.
You must defuse the bad memories you have and send them on there way. An easy way to defuse memories is by not accepting them as the truth in the first place, your bad memories must always be questioned and not accepted as the truth. The moment you accept the memory as being the truth of who you are as a person, the vicious cycle of lack of control over your thoughts will be allowed to begin once again. By questioning your thoughts and memories, you allow yourself to be the operator and controller of your mind once again and a sense of freedom should then follow. Remember, you do not deserve to suffer in life, you deserve to live a happy life.
Do not forget the past, learn from it and move on
It would be ignorant to suggest you forget the past, the past is crucial to your development as an adult, even our darkest memories and worse mistakes have much to teach us. Memories of an abusive person for example could lead you to become much wiser about the people you will allow into your world in the future. You must question the memories you have and remind yourself that you have learnt crucial lessons along the way. Again, this is not a case of forgetting the past, it is more a case of not focussing on the past. Life is also a journey involving many experiences to learn and improve ourselves as people.
Learning to discipline the mind by questioning each and every incoming memory is a crucial start in achieving a more peaceful state of mind, redirect the mind by asking yourself questions such as ‘is this memory really as true as it seems?’ ‘what can I do to make changes?’ ‘I am a good person and did not deserve this’ etc..
Only ten minutes away from a new beginning
Meditation and other forms of mindfulness can be very beneficial in promoting a clearer more peaceful mind. Finding time everyday to clear the mind and not allow your thoughts to run wild will prove very beneficial in the long term, once you begin to learn how to control your mind, the process will become easier and easier.
This is known as beginning a mental diet, where you promise to make some time everyday to take control of your mind. This time allowance does not need to be hours, it could be simply be a ten minute commitment. Even the busiest person has ten minutes everyday in which they can find time for themselves. You might even find this ten minute period becomes an enjoyable and integral part of your day which allows you to appreciate the moment and not dwell on the past. Remind yourself that your future will not be defined by your past and then you will begin seeing opportunities for an exciting future ahead of you.