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Change your memories - change your life

Monday, June 23, 2008

Here are some suggestions for using this very effective process to change your responses to emotionally negative memories. Note that some memories may have to be worked on more than once.

  1. Add something to the memory. What works quite well for memories of being criticized, for example, is to put antlers on the criticizer, play circus music in the background, and have clowns behind the criticizer making faces. This puts the event in a completely different context and helps your memory store it in the silly file where it can do no more harm.

    A variation would be to take away something that seems nonessential, like a potted plant or a picture or a cup. Sometimes the mind will use such an object for a storage key, and when it is gone the emotional response changes.

  2. Change the setting. Try putting the memory in different locations, or different time periods, compete with changes of costume. The emotional key is often linked to time and place. A variation is to change your viewpoint. Usually we always recall a memory from the same point of view, like a fixed camera. Experiment with moving your viewpoint around. Try it from above, from a different side, from a different level, or from behind. Another variation is to turn the whole thing upside down. With some people this produces a dramatic change in how they feel about the memory.

  3. Alter the reality context. One way is to suddenly freeze the memory, as if you've turned it to a thin sheet of glass or ice, and then take a hammer and break it up. Finish by sweeping it up and tossing the remains in a trash can. This is frequently very satisfying. Another way is to put the memory on a screen, as if you were running a movie, and then run it at high speed or in slow motion, and/or speed up, slow down, or vary the volume of the soundtrack. A good variation is to make the memory into a play, with you as the director telling the actors to do exactly what they did and praising them on their performance. This gives you a subtle sense of control over the situation and tends to remove feelings of helplessness.

  4. Change the elements into their opposites. This is a trial-and-error approach to finding the emotional key to a memory, but it works very well. Color is a good place to start. If the memory is in vivid color, make the colors faded or change them to black and white. If they are black and white or faded, put them in vivid color. If the memory appears close up, push it far away; if it's far away, bring it close up. If you are outside the memory looking at it (even at yourself), put yourself inside and experience it more directly; if you are inside, move yourself outside (although you can leave an image of yourself inside so you don't change the content). If the memory is big, make it small; if small, make it big. If the memory is borderless, put in a border; if bordered, take it away.

    You get the idea.

Note: Silly stuff generally doesn't work well on very traumatic memories because many people have strong rules about treating pain seriously. For traumatic memories I suggest starting with opposites or the viewpoint change.

~Serge Kahili King


shirley said...

So... this explains why I am so challenged with writing and sending letters!!!

Interesting. I'm going to experiment with changing my memories and see if it makes a difference. I'll let you know if it works.

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