Almost everyone has something that happened in the past affecting their present. Maybe they did something that continues to haunt them. Maybe someone did something to them that continues to hurt them. If memories from your past are affecting your day to day life, there are some ways to get past these memories, and start focusing on the present.

Recognize what triggers you.

Certain sights, sounds, or experiences can trigger past memories. On one hand, the smell of apple pie can bring back memories of your grandmother’s baking. A song you loved in childhood can remind you of a good friend from back then. On the other hand, a triggering sound, sight, or smell, can bring memories that aren’t positive back to life. When you realize what those triggers are, you’ll feel more in control. Being in control will help you put those bad feelings behind you. 

Think about what it could be that’s triggering your bad memories, and work on eliminating those triggers.

Practice mindfulness.

Research has shown that mindfulness can help lessen anxiety. Mindfulness is the state of being conscious or aware of something. When bad memories come up, you acknowledge them, then switch your focus to the present. You can try repeating a positive statement to yourself. Have a statement ready, such as, ‘I’m in control’ or ‘Things are better now,’ and repeat that statement in your mind whenever bad memories come up. This can be a big help in shrinking those bad feelings from the past.

Express yourself.

Sometimes it can feel really good to just express your feelings. That could mean venting to a good friend, talking to the person who hurt you, or just writing your feelings in a journal. Any way that you can let those feelings come out can be beneficial. Holding bad emotions inside can cause anxiety and stress.

Talk to a therapist.

Therapy can be a very helpful and important way to deal with negative past memories. A therapist can help you respond to these memories in a healthier way and give you alternative ways to look at any negative situations, past or present. A therapist is trained to help you with these things you’re going through, and what you say to your therapist is always confidential.

Forgive.

When someone hurts you, it may not be easy to forgive them, but it is important. Forgiveness can help you move past anger or resentment. It can set you on a path of doing away with bad feelings around a particular person. No matter what the situation is that’s causing your stress, the most important person to forgive is yourself, no matter what you may have done in the past.

You don’t have to be a slave to past memories. Learn how to move past them, and start living in the present. Working with a licensed mental health professional at Chenal Family therapy can help you improve your mental health and live in the present.

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