Negative experiences are an inevitable part of everyone’s life. When turned into nuggets of wisdom, they help us become better, stronger, happier, and wiser persons. Everyone goes through experiences that one would like to forget. You have a choice to bring your negative memories to Jesus for healing.

Here are five ways to heal painful memories:

Talk to people. It always helps to talk to people – a family member, colleague, friend, or someone who can guide you through the healing process – whom you trust about how you feel about those painful moments you have had. They may give you a word, advice, or an experience of assurance and comfort, or share similar stories.

Live and let go. Refuse to give your painful memories any power over your life. Never let them affect your present or future as they all happened in the past. No matter how hard you think about it, there is nothing you can do, so stop overthinking, grieving, or worrying.  

Learn from the past. Is there something you could learn from your past? You see, even the most painful or horrible experiences could teach us something. So, the key to forgetting painful memories is to not carry every painful memory like a wound but treat it as a period or opportunity for reflection, reconsideration, careful self-examination, and resolve for growth. It might take you a long time to realize what you have learned, especially if the memory is fresh, but if you can look back and find something positive and worth moving forward with, your painful memory might lose some of its sting. You will become a better, stronger, happier, and more grateful person.  

Identify and avoid triggers. Do you know what’s triggering your painful memories? Does a specific painful memory come up whenever you are around certain things or go to certain places? Maybe your painful memory is related to an incident that happened at the store or your old school, and you recall what happened every time you pass it. Maybe you freeze whenever you hear someone raise his/her voice because you would recall your mother who scolded you often when you were still a child. You might want to change your route or get used to loud voices, just anything to have control and power over your triggers. If you are able to completely avoid the things that trigger your painful memory and never think about it, it will eventually fade out of your mind.

Learn to be in the present. Let go of the past. Stop brooding over and suffering from what happened years, months, weeks, or days ago, and stop thinking about what may happen tomorrow. Be mindful of yourself in the present moment, and pay attention to your senses, to how your body is feeling. Stop worrying about things you cannot change and let go of your emotional baggage. Get more of your life, de-stress, and just be.

Focus on happier memories. Do you find yourself dwelling on bad memories a lot? Why not, instead, train your mind to switch to happy memories? Have you ever tried pairing a bad memory with a good one? For example, if you cannot stop about the time you cost your high school basketball team a game because you missed a crucial free throw, pair that memory with the memory of a time you scored lots of points and blocked many shots, thus helping your team win. Each time you think about a bad experience, shift your thoughts to a good and happier experience.

If these methods do not free you from your painful memories, please read Volume 3 of healing the Wounded Soul: Taking Every Thought Captive, where you can find another method of freeing yourself from these thoughts. Give the painful memories to Jesus and this book will lead you to new memories of the incidents that would be joyful instead of painful.

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