We’re not always very good at remembering things since even a walk through a doorway makes us forget what we came into the room to do. But somehow, some events we’d like to forget are forever stuck in our minds and it’s impossible to get rid of them. This is what makes our doorway memory loss even more unfair.
If you want to remember your mom’s phone number, you’ll probably repeat it over and over again to make it stick in your memory. The technique to forget things works exactly vice versa: every time the memory comes to your mind, throw it away. You can also force yourself to think about something else in order not to come back to the memory you don’t want to remember. If you do this often enough, the memory will probably just get lost one day.
While thinking about your bad memory, you probably can recall many details like where it happened, how old you were, what you were wearing, or who you were with — basically, the context of the situation. Researchers have discovered that any memory is linked to the context of the experience, and the context helps us to remember it. Therefore, if you want to forget it, the context should be changed.
Try to add some new controversial details that didn’t actually happen and start to think about the situation in different conditions. In the end, you’ll confuse your mind so much that it’ll push the memory out of your head.
This trick will only work if you do it right after experiencing something that you want to forget. After something you wouldn’t want to remember happened, you should do something that you could remember about that time instead, and this one should be stronger.
For example, if you had an awkward conversation with your ex-friend, you could go and buy something you’ve been wanting for a long time, go to an amusement park, or just cuddle with a loved one since physical contact has a positive effect on mental health. And, of course, while distracting yourself, you shouldn’t keep thinking about what happened, otherwise you’ll just make it harder to forget by providing it with additional context.
Every time the bad memory comes to your mind, try to recall something similar that was actually positive to replace a bad memory with a good one. For example, if you said something stupid to your friends and would like to forget this moment, recall some situations when you actually said something very smart or witty. Do it every time you recall the memory you want to forget and eventually, you’ll recall it for the very last time.
Sometimes we overthink and worry about something we shouldn’t. Our emotions are what don’t let us forget the memory, so the key here is to stop being emotional about the situation. Analyze your memory and try to think about it from a different perspective. Maybe nothing bad really happened or maybe it led to something good.
If you can’t convince yourself and need someone else’s opinion, then tell someone about the memory. Perhaps the person’s reaction will assure you that you’ve been overthinking things and your emotionality will disappear, letting the memory fade away as well.