We all suffer, or have suffered, situations in life that leave their mark on us, whether a trauma, bad sensations, negative feelings, or great pain, partially blocking our memories concerning that situation. Unless these effects are so severe as to require professional help, there is something we can do to eliminate them, or, at least, to diminish their negative impact on us.

Buried in our memory

Every time we live through a negative, traumatic, and potentially damaging situation, we tend to protect ourselves from that by hiding it in a deep corner of our memory. All the feelings, sensations and memories are still there, but we cover them with layers and layers of other memories, trying to prevent that which hurt us from resurfacing. The setback of this behavior that we all have as a self-preservation mechanism, is that, in the long run, it will cause more pain, even unconsciously, if we don’t get rid of what we have buried once and for all. Otherwise, one fine day it will explode and surface even more powerfully than when we tried to forget it to begin with.

Relive the situation

Probably, nobody wants to relive a situation that caused a traumatic experience, but if we want to discard it we must at least perform a cleansing exercise, in order to mitigate the effects of such bad memory. How to do that? Simply by trying to reenact in our mind parts of that memory, but focusing on different senses and features of it. Let’s say we once fell while playing when we were children and got badly hurt, or a dog bit us resulting in absolute panic of these animals. What we need to do is try to remember the incident several times, for a few minutes each time, but each time, in our mental reenactment of that situation, we have to see it from a different point of view. This technique is really very simple. For starters, write down in a piece of paper the following list:

● Sight

● Smell

● Touch

● Colour

● Emotion

● Sound

● Position

Now relax and try to relive again in your mind the moment when the dog attacked you, to use the example mentioned above. Then, concentrate in the first item of the list: sight. Try to remember everything that could be seen when it happened; what was the dog like? What clothes were you wearing? Who was with you? You have to feel that you are seeing all that was happening when the incident took place. Once you have relived the scene from the point of view of sight, think about it once more, except this time focus on the smell. What did you smell? How was the air, the atmosphere? What did it feel like? Repeat these steps with each of the items on the list above: touch (what tactile sensations did you have? Did you touch the dog? Was the floor hard when you fell?), colour (the colours at the scene, the people involved, the surroundings), emotion (What did you feel?) sound (What did you hear? Was someone screaming? Did you cry?), and position (Where were you and the other elements at the scene? etc.)

Mitigating and eliminating trauma

If you prefer, before starting this process, and in order to learn how to relive a bad experience, try this first, and relive a situation when:

● You felt very happy

● Life was fun

● You finished building something

● Someone gave you a present

● You were eating something really good

● You felt full of energy

● You talked to a good friend

The whole point of reliving a situation is to put it in the spotlight, to bring it back from the depths of our memory, and to reenact it several times to eliminate, or to mitigate, its effect by exhausting the energy stored on us related to it. In happy and fun situations, as the ones just mentioned, your mind will get used to visualizing and feeling again past situations. Once you feel comfortable doing this, you may begin with the bad experiences. You will notice that, after a few times going through them and working on them for several days using this method, results will be imminent. The trauma will disappear or, at least, their effect is diminished, and you will feel relieved, as if a burden has been lifted from you.