There was a time when I was really depressed and all I thought about were ways to ignore or get rid of the depression, which ultimately led to me being suicidal. I’d be OK for a few moments at a time and then my brain would go and make me feel like a f*cking idiot by bringing up all these painful memories that I would have just rather forgotten about. The film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind pretty much hit it right on the nose: I wanted those memories gone.
But then we run into a problem, as we become as a person is heavily dependent on the memories we hold. So if you get rid of the memories, you’re kind of getting rid of, well, you. So what’s a person to do?
Simple: change the nature of the memories.
Due the nature of how memories work, and how they don’t always occur as we remember them, researchers began to surmise that human beings could change the emotional responses that many of our memories trigger within us.
“Memories aren’t static. If you remember something in the context of a new environment and time, or if you are even in a different mood, your memories might integrate the new information.” – Donna Bridge, Northwestern University.
The study, published in The Journal Of Neuroscience, says that with a bit of practice, we can change any ‘negative’ memory into a positive one. It’s all about training our brains.
And the folks over at JournalMediaTale provided an awesome bullet-list of brain-training hacks that’ll help turn those crappy memories into good ones:
Think about the negative event while in a really positive mood. This can make the memory seem less important and less influential over your life.
Discuss the negative event with a supportive friend. They can often give you a new perspective to your experience that you had not considered.
Try to find something to laugh about in the negative event. Adding a layer of humor is a great way to change the meaning of a particular memory.
Go to a new environment to think about the event, like at a beach or park. Giving yourself a comfortable space to reflect on the event can help bring closure and perspective.
Create a piece of art or music about the event. This is a very effective way to change how your mind thinks of the event. It’s also a great way to transform something “negative” into something “positive” and creative.
Zoom out and see the “bigger picture” behind the event. Remember that your life is filled with many different experiences, and no one single experience can define your life.
Move on. Don’t continue to ruminate about the event and beat yourself up over it. That will only make the event seem more and more negative.
Write about the event and affirm what you learned from it and why it made you a better person.
Thinking about negative events when in a positive mood may sound counter-productive, but after doing it enough, your brain will associate the dopamine of the good times with that bad memory. And hopefully that’ll do the trick.
Unless it starts associating dopamine with the really painful, bad memory. Then, well, you’re kinda screwed.
Originally Published on distractify.com