Memories are reminders of experiences from the past that our minds have stored and filed. So for example; the event (we were talking), the physical feeling (it was cold), and the emotional feeling (I was scared) are processed and filed in our long-term memory. We have learned to interact with the world around us in reference to our memories. This is the basis of how we experience stress, anxiety and make decisions in our day to day lives. Some therapists call this our unconscious.
Despite being from anytime in our past, when the memory returns, it can be powerful and overwhelming. We experience the feelings; shame, anger, sadness etc, as strongly as ever whether we want to or not. Often we do not understand why we are recalling the memory. Memories can also be less specific offering only a sense of unease, stress and anxiety. The experience of the memory might be fleeting but the feelings may linger. The negative memories we experience can undermine our sense of self-worth over time and the ability to function in our day to day lives. Unfortunately, we do not always remember why we feel bad, we just know we do.
Memories can be overwhelming, debilitating and ultimately affect our long-term health. Unfortunately, sometimes our family, friends and colleagues are not capable of understanding how profoundly our memories are overwhelming us.
How does therapy help?
There are several excellent types of therapy that can help you overcome debilitating memories and the feelings we experience.
Behavioural therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you understand that feelings are thought processes that determine your behaviour. By understanding and changing the way you think and approach an issue, you can overcome negative feelings and behaviours.
Humanistic therapies such as person-centred therapy, offers a safe space to acknowledge and express your feelings. By coming to terms with the feelings, they will no longer dominate your life.
Clinical therapies such as psychodynamic therapy helps you explore when, why and how feelings were formed in your past and stored as memories. This allows you to fundamentally change the relationship with past events so they no longer control your present through debilitating feelings. Many therapists will offer compelling reasons to invest in their type of therapy. Choose the therapy and therapist you feel speaks to you.