Clearing Hurtful Memories Helps You to Heal and Clean Your Mental Environment
Someone once asked a great Spiritual teacher why we can’t remember any of the details of what happened to us before we were born.
He said it is because human beings have developed a visceral habit of hanging on to the unpleasant memories of their past life experiences way longer than necessary. If we can’t let go of something unpleasant that happened to us when we were five years old in this lifetime, imagine what mass of memories we would cling to if we had the ability to remember the events of many former lifetimes. Our minds would be so full of old hurts, resentments, fears and worries that we wouldn’t be able to experience this lifetime at all.
Hurtful memories from our past have a tendency to clutter our minds and really distort our mental environment.
In his book, “The Serenity Principle, Finding Inner Peace in Recovery”, Dr. Joseph Bailey talks about the day he was ready to quit his work as a therapist because he wasn’t getting anywhere coaching drug addicts to become and remain substance free. They were real people with valuable lives yet to be lived, but he couldn’t get through to them that they needed to shed their habitual thoughts of the past in order to move forward toward their future.
Then all of a sudden, he had an epiphany. He realized that most of his clients were using their addiction to escape from memories of old hurts, even abuses, and no matter how they tried to mask the past; the escape never lasted because they were trying to run away from something that didn’t exist anymore.
Dr. Bailey then hit upon a method of helping his patients realize that their past was no longer real. He acknowledged, with them, that whatever awful thing they were trying to block out of their minds really did happen to them, but he also helped them to grasp the concept that nothing about that experience exists in the present moment in the same way that it existed in their past.
Everything about that past experience has changed. The planet itself has turned countless numbers of times on its axis since the old hurts occurred, significantly shifting all of the molecules of the physical Universe.
None of the same cells are alive now that were alive in their bodies when that past event or events occurred. In fact, the cells in the bodies of all of the people involved in the event or events have been replaced with entirely new cells. No one – not one single person involved in the original incident is the same in the present that he or she was in the past. The people from the past don’t exist anymore except in the mind of their victim
“The past is not real”, he told his clients. “It was real then but it’s not real now. It’s just an old, bad, empty memory.” And – this form of therapy worked with his patients, because he was able to get through to the majority of them that they were the only ones giving reality to something that was no longer real.
He invited them to consider why they continued to give people from their past power to keep hurting them. Why were they mentally inviting them to live in their house every day, to take a shower with them, to sleep in their bed and ride around in their car? He helped his patients to understand that no one could clutter up their mental environment without their express invitation.
You may have had no control over what happened to you as a child, or in a previous marriage, or in a past work environment. No one will try to tell you those hurtful experiences weren’t painfully real when they happened but they have no reality now and only you can take the steps to stop the old hurts from hurting any more.
The way to bring an end to pain surprisingly quickly is to ask yourself this all-important question every morning: “What am I going to fill up my mind with today?””
It is difficult to try to control your thoughts, especially if you’ve developed the habit of holding on to your hurtful past, but it is relatively easy to become aware of your feelings. Whenever you start to have any kind of bad feelings, (mad, sad, restless, jealous, needy, greedy, etc.), check to see if your mind is focused on past experiences. If so, then gently bring your thoughts back to the present, to whatever is going on in your life right that moment. Remind yourself that the past is no longer real, people from your past no longer exist as you knew them then, but the present moment, the NOW moment, is real and vibrant and feels just fine.
It doesn’t take long to sweep negative thoughts from your past out of you consciousness for good and maintain a healthy mental environment. What it does take is commitment – commitment to yourself to stay present in the present so that you don’t ever waste any part of your very precious life.
Bailey, J. (1990). The Serenity Principle: Finding Inner Peace in Recovery. New York. HarperOne.
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