Blocking Bad Memories

“Yesterday is
today’s memory,
and tomorrow is
today’s dream.”
Kahlil Gibran
A couple of days ago, I asked my friends what they would like to invent and lots of people said they would like a bad memory eraser.  I was surprised that so many people would want that.  I find that blocking bad memories is a skill that you can learn.  Apparently scientists have also found a drug that can be used to do just that.  Of course, drugs like that could be very helpful for people who have had traumatic experiences and suffer from post traumatic stress, but what about the rest of us who just have bad or embarrassing memories that bother us.

I have a way with them.

Seriously, I do.

I am going to tell you.

It’s easy, I just forget.

Actually it’s not that easy.  I sat down trying to think why I can forget about the things that bother me and dissected how I do it.

Don’t label it a bad memory in the first place

I’ve always been generally clumsy.  I trip and I fall, one Thursday I walked through the club gates looking cute and all then I tripped and fell on my butt in the busiest spot in front of everyone.  They laughed, they had to, it was hilarious.  I felt my face go red and was going to cry then I realized it must have looked hilarious and laughed too.  What could have been an embarrassing moment is now a funny one in my head.  Whenever you catch a bad memory forming, laugh about it, find something funny or nice about it and store it under “crazy” or “funny” in your head.

Tape over it

Basically I replace the memories with something else.  In other words, I dissasociate it with one event and associate it with something better.  Imagine your brain like a video recording device (yes a VCR not a DVD recording device),  when you have a bad moment just remember a positive moment and keep remembering it as vividly as possible.  Talk about it, imagine it, daydream about it, tell everyone about it until it has replaced the bad one.

Make it about something else

Remember that day your car broke down, your cat died and your house was eaten by a huge fire because your neighbors threw a lit cigarette butt into your balcony?  Do something fun or happy, go get a pedicure at a great place so you can call it “the day I had my awesome pedicure” instead of “the day my life fell apart”.  It really is just that simple.  This is similar to taping over a bad memory but is done immediately after something bad happens before it actually becomes a bad memory.

Train yourself to be an optimist

Some people are just natural optimists, they can see the good side of everything that happens no matter how ugly it is.  If you consciously make the decision to do that all the time you can have happier memories instead of bad ones.  It’s all about deciding to think happy thoughts.


  • At 2009.05.10 10:03, inas said:

    good 4 u

    • At 2009.05.11 19:13, Karmi said:

      the terribly painful and traumatic memories are something else. i wonder what’s the most effective way of living through such painful memories. i guess blocking them is not the answer.

      • At 2009.05.29 08:39, Becky said:

        On the contrary, I believe that you need to get your feelings out about your traumatic experience, and then I believe that you need to block them. It isn’t good to go on forever thinking and stewing about trauma that happened in the past. I have been using Dr. Bray’s exercises, offered in his book, “No Open Wounds,” to do just that- block out or end years of bad memories, worries, and fears.

        • At 2010.03.14 13:43, Celia said:

          I found this very helpful, because there are always those small moments which are “embarrassing” as such and that i cant stop thinking about and i love the idea of blocking them, i have tried this and not only has it improved the way i see embarrassing moments but i have began having a more positive outlook on other things in my life.

          Thanks for the article it was VERY helpful.