Three tools to help you let go of Painful Memories

Recently a friend of mine came to visit and she shared her poem on her experiences of being in an abusive and violent marriage.  There was something which she said that made me think and was really the catalyst for this blog post, her words were “I just need a moment to get back into that frame of mind because my life has moved on”.  OK, maybe those were not her exact words but her words clearly expressed that she is now not where she was then even though it was just six months earlier!  Thinking back to her visit, I ask myself what enables one person to let go of painful memories and experiences whilst for others regardless of the length of time elapsed the wounds are still as raw as if it had just taken place?  My friend Sacha used the tool of writing or journalling her experiences out in the form of pages and pages of poems, each time she wrote about it she brought the experience outside of her so that it no longer was a part of who she was.  You can watch her performing her poem in the video at the end of today’s post 🙂

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We have all experienced pain, there’s not much we can do about it since we don’t live in a vacuum; but it seems that if we fail to somehow find a healthy way of dealing with our hurts, our experiences have the power to change us, cripple us and even destroy us.

overwhelmed by fear

Pause for reflection

Are there any old wounds that you have managed to let go of and move on?

Can you remeber what you did to facilitate this healing?

Are there any painful memories which you are finding hard to let go of?

What do you think is blocking you from releasing them?

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It doesn’t take much to re-live and open up old wounds does it?  We often think of memories as thoughts and images stored in our brain, but the truth is so much more.  Our memories also include attached emotions, taste, smell, sound and tactile sensations, I think the strongest of these is inevitably the emotions.  Up until today certain types of music reminds me of a time of deep sadness during my formative years, if it was just the image of the memory it might not be so bad but I also re-experience certain elements of sadness which take me back in time.  So, it seems that our memories are made up of more than images but are in essence a snapshot of everything we experienced at the time, this means that recalling the event willcause a response in our body, soul and spirit too.  Brain scientists have found that our memories are physically present in the brain,  unfortunately constant recall of these memories only makes them stronger.  Nevertheless, this knowledge can help us learn to let go of these painful memories by understanding that constantly dwelling on them without finding a way to release them and seperate them from our being only makes them more potent.

Unfortunately, we can’t switch off our brain but Brain scientists like Christian Dr Caroline Leaf believe that we can take back control of it and win the battle against our minds and hearts.  In her well-known book “Who Switched Off my Brain?” she delves further into the mind-emotion-body connection as well as offering up a way of changing the way you think and perceive life in under a month!

The truth is that there is hope for us to reclaim our brain and dull if not switch off those painful emotions asscoiated with negative events and experiences.  Last week as I was walking with my nephew we passed by an area where I had been sexually assaulted as a child. Even though I recalled the event, I felt only slight discomfort there was very little emotion attached to it.  I believe that the reason this was the case can be found in the three tools that have helped me let go of very painful memories.

Tool 1 – Meditating on God’s Word

How/why  does it work?

  • First off, you can only focus on one thing at a time so make it something positive and soul nourishing
  • and secondly, you can’t believe two contradictory truths or experience two contradictory emotions simaltaneously, you have to make a choice.
  • But MOST IMPORTANTLY, the Word of God is life-giving and transformational and more powerful than the lies of the enemy.  By focusing and meditating on the Word it will inevitably supercede all else that contradicts it, however it is up you to decide whether you will accept the truth of God’s Word over the lies of the Enemy.

How to use it

Read and meditate on specific scriptures such as the Psalms and the Gospels, I would recommend that you read at least one chapter from one of these Books every day.  You can keep a note on which you read, use a Bible that you feel comfortable highlighting and writing on, listen to God’s voice and if need be jot down words and images you receive in the spirit.

Tool 2 – spending time in Communion with God

How/why  does it work?

Prayer is a fantastic opportunity to sit ourselves in front of the best counsellor, best parent and best friend of all time.  Honest communion with Him allows us to get the hurt out of us and give it to Him and when we do this, He is faithful to bring us into deeper healing over time.

How to use it

In addition to this general type of prayer, we are to also use supplication (unceasingly yet humbly requesting help and support for a need) and thanksgiving (praise and worship of His love, faithfulness and goodness) as additional tools for receiving breakthrough.  I see these 3 tools being used by David in psalm 119, each stanza incorporates these 3 elements in this order ,so  although he starts off uncertain and vulnerable in the beginning by the end of praying it all out he leaves much more confident and assured.

Tool 3 – Using writing and journalling

How/why  does it work?

Journaling is also a very powerful tool, although the Bible doesn’t explicitly teach journaling it contains hundreds of examples especially in the Books of Wisdom.  In particular the Psalms, Proverbs, Songs of Solomon and Ecclesiastes use a type of poetical, illustrative/descriptive journaling which allows for deeper reflective writing.  Because of the way the human brain works journaling provides a way to explore our inner being and give expression to it in a way that verbal communication doesn’t allow.  We have the time to explore old truths, compare them against our reality and develop new patterns and links, it also provides us with the opportunity to be still and quiet enough for God to speak through our pen.  Some of my greatest healings and profound revelations of truth has been the by-product of putting pen to paper.

How to use it?

I don’t believe that there is a set way of doing this, some people prefer to write stories, some people poems, some people prefer to draw but the key is to get it out of you.  Dr Caroline Leaf advocates her trademarked “Metacog” because she believes it mirrors the way the human brain works.  This tecnique is very similar to drawing a mind-map, you can watch her explain Metacog in more detail in the video below (link here).  However, whichever option you choose is up to you, so start experimenting to find out what works for you.

Next steps: why not have a go at using one of these tools and let me know hot it has worked for you?  Also, please share any other tools that you have used that have  enabled you to let go of painful memories.

To round up here is the poem that sparked it all of,  “Cover Me with Lace not Bruises” by Sacha Wise.

PS. Don’t forget to check out my book extracts on Stress and Fear Mangaement for Christians (updated regularly)

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