Memories – good or bad, tend to stick with us. We smile thinking or some and we grimace thinking of the others. Bad Memories often tend to leave behind an invisible scar that we carry forth throughout our life. Wondering how to forget bad memories?
It is not always feasible enough to drive away the bad memories with a snap of the fingers. It does take more time and effort than that.
In this article, we are going to discuss every little detail into understand the process of memory consolidation and how to forget painful memories that does no good to your mental health.
How Are Memories Formed?
How many times did you read your lessons to memorize them? Quite a lot, right? Ever thought about the process of how memories are formed and consolidated?
Let’s take a peek then.
It is completely the action of the proteins that get the job done. When you are constantly stimulating your brain with the same information, the proteins inside the brain get triggered and form new connections to be able to consolidate the memories.
The more you revisit those memories and relearn then, the neuronal connections become stronger. The recollection of a memory and its presence in your mind is completely dependent on how frequently you revisit them and recollect them.
Irrespective of whether its short term or long term, none of the memories are stable. So when we mention or talk about how to erase memories, it is possible with a persistent time.
Any fearful or traumatic events during the childhood are often a common reason behind the induction of phobia in the person as they continue to grow and age. Every realm of memory has its own way of restoration and consolidation which is why some bad memories stick with us throughout our life and we often forget the light hearted good memories.
Does Oxytocin Impact Bad Memories?
Also known as the “Love Hormone”, Oxytocin, until recently has always remained in the positive light but studies (R) state otherwise. It is believed that this hormone, released from the hypothalamus, could be playing a crucial role in intensifying the bad and painful memories instead of treading it away.
Experiencing a bad event might be a possible trigger for oxytocin to amplify and heighten the restoration of the memory in one’s mind. Studies claim that oxytocin could possibly be strengthening the bad social memories, thereby igniting the signs of fear, anxiety and stress.
Oxytocin affects the lateral septum, amplifying the memory and consolidating it for further periods of time. The aspect of social anxiety and its correlation to the trail of events might be dependent on your brain’s ability to access the oxytocin and its correlations to how one encodes the bad memories.
Correlations Between Gene Variations And Bad Memories
With the consistently advancing medical research field, it is not a surprise that more approaches are coming into light when it comes to how to forget bad memories.
In a conducted study (R) (R), it was found that the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene variation is what is related to fear generation. This discovery led to the common exploration of the fact that the BDNF therapy in the future could very well be effective in treating the condition by altering the genes.
Apart from this, Tac2 gene pathway has also been described as a possible booster to the retention of traumatic memories in our brain. Any form of medication that blocks the pathway could be a potent remedy to get rid of the onslaught of negative thoughts in the mind. This is believed to be the most effective in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
These correlations just gist out the fact that the bad memories are not completely wiped out of the brain and mind; it is placed somewhere inaccessible and has the possibility of returning if faced with a trigger.
Is There A Reason Why Bad Memories Are Always So Vivid?
Extreme emotions always impact us the most, be it happy or sad. You are more likely going to always remember events that impacted your life vividly.
Bad memories pan out from the same realm of thoughts. For the most part, bad memories tend to stem from traumatic events and because of the sudden shock, there are chances that these will remain instilled in your mind for the longest period of time until you engage in ways to erase memories for good.
Studies and researches have shown that the reason why the bad memories are so vivid is mainly because of the fact that they are entwined with negative emotions which peer more impact on one’s thinking. Not just that, it also tends to include parts of the brain that is solely responsible for managing the emotions, especially that of the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex. Triggers tend to induce more cellular activity in the region which is often the reason why these memories are so vivid.
How To Forget Bad Memories?
The process of “deleting” the bad memories and to forget painful memories, it is necessary to have a set of ground rules that are often associated with the outcomes of the process.
1. Improving Your Thought Pattern
Your thought process plays a very crucial role in how you store and perceive your memories – good and bad. The things going around in your head and mind are completely up to your realm of experiences and imaginations. It is important to understand that you are in complete charge and control of them.
So, whenever you are faced with an onslaught of bad memories rushing back in your mind, the best ways to forget bad memories is to replace and substitute them with something positive and nice. Distracting your mind from the realm of negative thinking is what helps you desensitize the topic and you end up suppressing it for good.
2. Identify The “Culptits”
Memories, especially the bad memories often resurface upon exposure to a trigger. It doesn’t just pop up. So, if you have been exposed to something in your present environment, chances are that the same is triggering your bad memories to resurface.
Identifying these triggers is the key. Once you are well versed with the kind of situations or people who are constantly triggering your thought process with the bad memories, it becomes easier for you to distance yourself from the situation and suppress and erase memories that bring you down.
3. Think/No Think Paradigm
It has been for years that researchers have been consistently working to discover and develop ways to either forget bad memories or suppress and isolate them for good. The think/no-think paradigm (R) is the outcome of the years of research.
According to this process, it is believed that one can use the higher functions of brain (R) including reasoning and rationality to be able to consciously block away the bad memories that have been invading your mind.
Intentionally work on shutting down your memories as soon as they start to ebb into your brain. This needs to be done over a period of time following which you will eventually end up abolishing the presence of that event in your life altogether.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a state of mind that boosts your overall thought process to be engrossed in what are going around at the current time. It primarily does focus on making the person bring their focus back on the present and persuades them to focus on the sight and smell infiltrating the mind in current time.
This is quite beneficial in blocking out the onslaught of bad memories (R) that were close to imbibe into your thoughts.
5. Exposure Therapy
This makes up for an aspect in the how to forget bad memories. It includes situations which make you live through the downsides to actually help heal you from within. Often times, people suffering from PTSD tend to lack proper closure to the trauma that has been affecting their day to day life.
Exposure therapy is a mode of treatment in the field of psychiatry that focuses on the victim to live through the traumatic events and openly talk about them with their therapist to be able to find a solution or an effective mechanism of coping from the problems they face.
This is also known as prolonged therapy which is conducted in multiple sessions in which the person discusses the negative and bad memories instilled in their mind to finally find a way to let go off of it or to move on from it effectively. It is believed to be the best mode to forget painful memories (R) and heal from the trauma, especially in PTSD patients.
6. Opt For Memory Alterations
Our brain does this thing where every time you recall a memory, there is going to be some miniscule alterations to them. This can often be taken to advantage by our conscious state of mind. If you have been seeking active ways of how to forget bad memories, every time you are exposed to a bad memory, try and imbibe some altered version (R) of the memory and try and consolidate that.
When you consistently tend to keep taking this aspect to your advantage, chances are that you will eventually be able to suppress and erase memories that originally happened and replace them with the altered memories.
7. Make Yourself Busier
When I mention this, I don’t mean for you to stop having a life and consistently focus on working. That’s toxic for your mental health.
You must have heard the term that an empty mind is a devil’s nest. If you successful want to forget bad memories, it is important not to leave your mind idle. That is where the problem stems off of. If you have nothing to engage yourself with, your mind will reel back to the events that you have been working hard to suppress.
8. Talk To A Therapist
While talking to your friends and family can be helpful too, doing so with someone professional has better overall impacts that helps you heal from the traumatic event that has been infiltrating your mind and senses.
Reaching out to a therapist can actually help you get a proper direction to your thought process which in turn, helps you erase memories that have been affecting your overall mental health and quality of life. Therapists are trained to assess and advise you with methods that will beneficially bring you out of the dark hole that you are finding yourself stuck in. Availing the services of one can actually be quite beneficial not just for your mental health but to also eventually end up with a better outlook on life.
How forget bad memories? This is that one question that has scientific evidence and answers but at the end of the day, the results depend on the person who is involved. If you are not putting in efforts to forget the painful memories and triggering your brain instead, chances are that these are going to stay.