Persistent memories are those unwanted recollections of the past, memories that can torment and cause despair and depression. These memories are often difficult to put aside or forget.
Some of these memories accurately reflect horrifying events, while others may be negative distortions of reality.
Those suffering from depression are particularly prone to have persistent memories, as are those with post-traumatic stress disorders or any traumatic experiences.
In "The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers," author Daniel Schacter describes those with persistent memory as becoming “tragic prisoners of memory.”
Dwelling on such negative memories can cause mental health issues and disturb our overall well-being. The more you think about your hardships, mistakes, problems and traumas, the more likely you are to experience depression, anxiety and stress disorders.
And negative thinking is a hard cycle to break. It becomes an ingrained habit. Constantly pondering these memories can increase emotional distress and raise the risk of substance abuse or eating disorders.
To put aside or forget persistent memories, first an individual needs to recognize when it is happening, then quickly think about something more productive.
Meditation can help ease the mind and calm the soul.
Another idea is to set aside time to think, worry and reflect. When unwanted memories arise, say to yourself that you'll think about it later at your set worrying time. If this practice proves unsuccessful, try distraction with exercise, a hobby or household chores.
Keeping a gratitude or blessing journal also helps in putting up a barrier against those persistent memories. The more effort and concentration put on listing blessings, the more mindful an individual becomes of the good in present moments and encouragement for what the future holds. This consistent practice can be the gateway to forgetting those persistent memories and training the mind for a more positive outlook.