It is not possible to erase memories. Although if it were possible, I would be the first one to sign myself to get it done. Sometimes we have memories of the weirdest things and sometimes the worse things, but one thing is for sure, those memories often take over the good memories.
I am sure that most people have a balance of good and bad memories in the back of their heads. Good memories make us feel warm and relaxed. They can even cause us to laugh.
For example. During Christmas time, my mom, Lil bro Dev, and I all went to the mall and hung out around the area for the whole day. My grandma was going to have a Christmas Tree decorating party that night, so we just killed time until we had to head over to her house.
I remember the really good Shake Shack we had for lunch. I remember taking a picture with this very large cruise ship made of gingerbread, I even remember going through the ToysRUS experience and being the only people there. The three of us are huge kids, so we had a blast.
That day was perfect. But here’s the thing, it wasn’t completely perfect. When we got to my grandma’s house and started decorating the tree, I was annoyed. My cousins were not helping and kept complaining the entire time. My younger cousins cried and cried and cried. My mom and I were the only ones trying to get the tree to look decent with my grandma’s high expectations and very crappy ornaments.
The memories of that day are kind of overshadowed by the memories of that night. When that day pops into my head, the first I think about is being at my grandma’s house very annoyed.
Here’s the thing about people, we tend to remember the bad far more than we remember the good. The reason for this is because it affects us much greater than the good memories. As humans, we focus on the negative a lot and I don’t think we do it on purpose.
If you go to a restaurant and have a bad experience, you will likely not return to the restaurant again. Every time you pass by it on your way to work, you will remember that one thing, the horrible service. You will not think about how you had been there the week before and had good service and the best apple pie of your life there. You only going to think about the second time you went and had bad service and how the waiter was untrained and rude.
It is completely possible to pass by the restaurant and think about the apple pie and how it had the flakiest crest and melted in your mouth. You can think about the really good cocktails that they served.
You can choose to do whatever you want with your thoughts and a lot of time we don’t. Anything can trigger a memory. Most of the time we can choose to let the memory drift out of your head and move on to something else.
To be honest, trying to push out bad memories or even thoughts can be hard. It can, unfortunately, take you down the road of shame, anger, and what-ifs. The what-ifs are the worse because it causes us to think if the situation was different and what would have happened if it had gone our way. You can’t change the past, but only more on to the future.
A lot of times I try to oppress the memories of when we lived in this little brown house in Lithonia, Georgia. I had lived in this house for about nine years. Most of my worse memories had taken place in that house. Some of the bad memories are of my dad.
My dad, while a very sweet, kind, and caring now, wasn’t always that person back then. I love my dad with all my heart, but sometimes, there are memories that will surface that cause me to be angry and passive towards him.
I was about six years old when my whole family had gotten McDonald’s for lunch and decided to go into the living room to eat. I was sitting in the kitchen by myself and decided to join my mom, dad, and baby brother. I packed up my chicken nuggets and fries into my Happy Meal box and carried it to the living room. I unpacked all my food and sat on the ground criss-cross apple sauce.
I was now with the family and everything was going well until my dad saw me.
“Uh,” he said. He pointed to the kitchen. I packed all my food back into my Happy Meal box, went back to the kitchen, and cried my six-year-old heart out.
“That was mean honey,” I heard my mom say in the other room.
I, now sitting alone at the kitchen table, wanted to crawl into a hole and die. It was only moments later when my dad came into the kitchen, grabbed my food, and told me to come into the living. He placed my food in the middle of the living room. I sat down in front of my food feeling stupid and embarrassed. I no longer wanted to eat, but I did because I guess I was supposed to.
That memory had occurred in my head, while my mom and I were eating Chick-Fil-A in the car. I should have pushed the memory out of my head and I should have thought of the time my dad took me to the park every Sunday after he mowed the lawn, but I didn’t. I began to feel anger and resentment.
By coming to think about what happened to me when I was six was doing absolutely nothing for me except making me feel miserable. Why think about the bad when you can think about the good?
That is a hard question to answer while living a society that constantly focuses on negative things. You can also say that we are trained to be negative instead of positive. But you can train yourself to go in the opposite direction.
Thinking positive takes a lot of work. Sometimes you don’t want to put in the effort. I get it, it is sometimes easier to wallow in self-pity than to move on. But it is completely worth it to change.
Since your memories can change your mood, you need to do things that can prevent you from going down the rabbit hole.
When you have a bad memory you can do a couple of things:
- Distract yourself with something that makes you happy. This can be music or your favorite movie. Just get your mind focused on something more positive.
- Write down why the memory made you feel the way it did. Writing your feelings can sometimes help you realize why you feel the way you do.
- Dwell on the memory. The situation already happened and you can’t change it. The only thing this will do is make you feel upset.
- Take out your feelings on other people. This is unfair even to the person who hurt you. They may not even remember what happened.
Memories can have a lasting effect, but you don’t have to let it be that way. You can change how and what you think about. Try to think of the positives and let the negatives drift into the back of your mind.