There are certain things that happen to people that are marked by sadness. These memories can keep them from leading a healthy life that’s peaceful and without fear.
Is it possible to erase those painful memories?
What are memories?
“Memory” is a word with Latin roots, which means “to go back through the heart.” Remembering is a way your mind recalls the way a certain situation or event occurred in the past.
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What are memories for?
Overall, memories serve to organize your life.
Without remembering, or memories, it would be impossible to live. It would mean you have to learn everything like it were new again, all the time. Then, the retention or transfer of experience would be impossible.
How does your brain store memories?
The mind stores memories in many ways, establishing different sets for different types of memories.
However, the list is very long. To simplify it, let’s just say that memories are divided between short-term, long-term, and sensory memories.
First of all, this is the memory that you experience through your senses.
These memories are stored very briefly, no longer than 300 milliseconds. After that time they disappear entirely, unless they become part of your short-term memory.
Once you’ve selected an experience from your sensory memory, it is installed in the short-term memory.
This category is also sometimes called operational memory. All in all, it can contain between five and nine elements at a time.
Finally, this is how your mind stores memories in a lasting way. In addition, painful memories also reside here. Long-term memory can be divided into implicit and explicit memory.
The first one stores your unconscious memories and is related to learning different kinds of skills. Thanks to this type, you can perform certain activities like riding a bicycle or driving a car.
Explicit memory is linked to your conscious activity. Here, there are two types of explicit memory: semantics and episodic. Semantics refers to historical or scientific memories, as well as geographic or spatial knowledge. In addition, someone’s name would also be stored in this type of memory.
Episodic memory is where painful memories are stored. This is where you keep the stories about yourself and retain certain facts or recall certain experiences. Examples of experiences stored in episodic memory would be your wedding day, graduation, a fight, or something bad that happened to you.
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Can you erase a painful memory?
Naturally, people will all go through painful events throughout their lives. Sometimes, it’s possible to process those events and memories, and move on.
However, there are times when this can be more complicated. Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from past events can be very difficult weights to bear.
Because of the way your memories are stored, whether you can forget it or not depends on how each memory is consolidated. This leads us to the body of science known as neuroscience.
Research in this field has shown that every time you recover (remember) a certain experience, it becomes unstable or malleable. Thus, this allows you to add new information to it. When you return it to its filed location, it has been altered slightly from the original.
This mechanism provides a space in which you can modify a painful or traumatic memory. As a result, you are able to change your emotional response that is tied to it.
Believe it or not, psychotherapy can also help combat negative emotions by helping you reinterpret the facts that cause you pain. When the meaning is changed, the painful fact is altered. Information can be added or replaced in order to reduce your suffering.
Currently, scientists are developing drugs that can assist patients in working through painful memories.Substances that inhibit the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, can even help resolve a painful memory.
However, most theories related to the study of these memories suggest that you must accept the facts and understand that you cannot change the past.
It’s important to look for ways to gain some perspective on that painful past. Regardless of how strong or traumatic it was, it always has a positive lesson to teach you.
Finally, it’s important to forgive. Forgiveness allows you to overcome anything, leaving the past in the past where it belongs.
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