Your Past Self And The Path To Mastering Your Past

The person you used to be(Your past self) before today, the person that went through those past experiences that define and color your thoughts, is quite different from who you are today, and who you will be in the future. Yet there is a thread, a path to mastering your past that unites your past, present, and future self. It is the chain of memories that flows with each nostalgic thought you have.

We know from psychological research, that the act of remembering the past and planning for the future is controlled by the same brain areas. This means that moving forward in life has a lot to do with looking backward. Your self-mastery may have a lot to do with mentally going back to childhood.

Memory does more than help us remember things. It plays an essential part in our psychological well-being. Memories are a very human part of our existence. The memories we have can determine our present behavior and can predict our future outcomes.

Functions of Memory:

  1. Your memories craft your identity

Memories come together in your mind to grant you a sense of continuity. Having a memory means you can travel through time and have vivid details of who you used to be, all you have experienced and how you felt in the past; of who you are now and how much you have evolved; and who you would like to be in the future.

  1. Your memories make you an individual

The memories you have gathered over time distinguish you from others around you. The kids you grew up with may have attended the same school or religious center as you and may have participated in the same activities as you. But the differences in the way you recall these experiences make each of you different from the other. Your personal experiences make you an individual, different from all others.

  1. Your memories can help you figure out puzzling situations

As you grow through life, you may find yourself in certain life situations whose solutions can only be found in a journey down memory lane. Memories guide you to solutions, help you find repose, break cycles and emerge stronger.

For example, the painful memories a son has of his father having a terrible hangover can keep him from ever abusing alcohol.

  1. Memories help you relate to others

The memories you have of the relationships from the past serve as foundational materials for building new relationships and preserving existing ones. Memories greatly affect your social life.

For example, great memories of family time when you were a child can make you more interested and deliberate in building strong connections with those around you.

  1. Memories place a check on your emotions

Life can be cyclical. As you travel along, you may experience some things that are similar to what had already occurred in your life before. Your memory allows you to recollect how you felt and reacted back then and allows you to react more graciously and cope better. Old memories can keep you from getting hurt or hurting someone a second time and can create a cheering diversion for times when you feel sad.

According to research carried out by the American Psychological Association, mastering your past self a people who have happy memories of childhood often have better health, fewer chronic diseases, and are less likely to feel depressed as adults than those who do not. There is a huge positive correlation between wellness, good health, and good memories.

Your Past Self And The Path To Mastering Your Past

Childhood and memory

Formative memories or, childhood memories are episodic memories (memories of past experiences) that are formed during childhood. When details of an event, such as where and when it happened, the feelings you had, and who was present; are pieced together in the brain and recalled later, episodic memory is formed. Episodic memories are very important for binding together and understanding our recollections from childhood.

Common childhood memories can include a birthday party, a visit to the mall, a day out with siblings, playing outside with friends, a weekend spent at your grandparents’, beach time with family, or receiving a gift. Most people typically recall events as far back as when they were about three or four years of age. Around this time, the developing brain begins to maintain long-term memory function.

Why don’t I remember my childhood?

Childhood Amnesia

While there are people who do not remember much about when they were kids, there are those who have no memory of childhood at all. This brings us to the question: Is it normal to not remember your childhood?

For the most part, it is totally normal not to remember much of your childhood. This is called infantile or childhood amnesia. It means that even though in childhood the brain is super-absorbent of all that it experiences, only a few of these memories are carried into adulthood.

Infant amnesia does not mean you have an issue with your memory or that your brain is repressing memories due to trauma. It is just how the brain works. It is common to find people that fear that their brains must have repressed some horrible event in order to protect them.

Thankfully, this is not always the case. Most victims of childhood trauma, especially very serious forms of trauma, have a memory of the incidents. Although trauma can affect a person’s memory (as we will see soon), if you have difficulty remembering childhood trauma and nothing else in your life points to this, it is possible you just have regular childhood amnesia and your brain is not repressing any memories. How far back can you remember?

Childhood amnesia trauma

‘I can’t remember my childhood’, ‘sometimes, I think I was sexually abused but I cannot remember’.  These and more, are statements that longer on many minds today. It is rare to find a person that has full detail of every aspect and stage of their life. Many people remember certain events and totally forget others. And as they get older, people tend to retain less and less of their childhood memories.

Some do not have any memory at all of their childhood. Why does this happen? Why do some people have missing memories? Do you struggle to recall parts of your childhood that you feel could be vital to your existence today? The truth is there may be others that feel the same way.

More often than not, people who report that they do not remember much may have had a rough childhood. It is possible that they may have undergone some form of trauma or may have been victims of child abuse. When such is the case, such people may have a selective memory.

Childhood trauma may be in form of sexual, physical, or psychological abuse, domestic violence, illnesses, grief, accidents and injury, wars, or natural disasters. Undergoing some forms of stress, especially during childhood, can invoke various responses from our bodies and brains. One of such responses is that the brain blocks such sad memories, and so people report that they can’t remember childhood trauma.

Research shows that trauma and abuse can affect your memory. While victims of childhood trauma and abuse are unlikely to forget the incidents completely, they may have distorted memories of the events. Victims may recall their abuse in flashes. This is because the brain often disassociates in order to protect itself, leaving incoherent images. Because trauma can erase earlier, even more, pleasant memories, and traumatic memories only come in flashes, victims may be left with only sparse memories of childhood.

For the most part, people who are affected by a traumatic past, feel stuck in the same vicious cycle for years. If you are experiencing such feelings, you should consider visiting a therapist for support.

Forgetting the bad

Have you found yourself having a surge of memories you would rather forget? They could be sad memories of broken relationships, losses, rejection, or embarrassing moments in your life; or disturbing memories of abuse or trauma from childhood, or sometime in the past.

Memories are an essential part of our existence, but memories are not always good. While some people have a timeline of a happy childhood and early life, others have a catalog of events they would rather not have experienced. While I would rather hold on to only the most beautiful memories of my life, I often find that painful memories find their way into my reveries.

In dealing with how to forget something disturbing, a lot of emotions and energy are involved. You may experience difficulty figuring how to get traumatic images out of your head. So much time is wasted mulling over unpleasant incidences from the past and moving forward seems almost impossible. But you must focus on the path to self-discovery.

  1. Find your positive experience

This is a process that triggers a mind full of beautiful memories while deleting memories that constantly drag you down. Seek out a positive incidence from the creases of your mind. Recall an experience that made you feel loved, safe, wanted, and truly happy. If you have none, then create one. Go on an adventure, spend time with a loved one, do or buy something you really want. Let that positive experience be strong enough to stand at the forefront of your awareness.

  1. Paint it limitlessly

Take time to relive the positive experiences you have. Ruminate on them, color them and make them come to life. Bask in the support you’ve received, recall the fun time you had. Like an artist with an endlessly large canvass, stretch your good memories and let the thoughts leave you refreshed.

  1. Infuse your memories

This step on working on how to get rid of a memory is like brewing a cup of tea. Imagine you have a teapot of hot water and then you drop several teabags into it. Slowly but surely, the hot water is infused and filled with the flavor of the tea.  Allow your fun memories to overwhelm experiences that disturb you. Live in the joy they bring, recall jokes and laugh over them. Consciously allow the positive to infuse the negatives of your life.

Personal growth and memory

In the wake of an unpleasant past memory, whether due to trauma, abuse, or distasteful events at some point in your life, your morale for pressing on into a happy and fulfilled future may be very low. A toxic past can drag you down and seriously challenge your present efforts towards a better future.

Did you allow your unpleasant experiences to become part of you?

Have you become used to being that victim, even when that position does not serve you well?

Have you adapted to living and functioning daily with the hurt, resentment, anger, and pain that keep you under?

It is time to courageously work on letting go of your past self.

Your present self is different from the one who went through those hurting experiences. It is really up to you to rise and claim the future you really deserve.

  1. Accept your past without regrets

Accepting your past does not mean pretending that those painful events did not happen. It means choosing to sit behind the wheels of your life. It is a conscious choice. You must understand that the past is never coming back and those hurting experiences can no longer control you if you choose. This realization, and acceptance comes with energy to forge ahead. It gives you a renewed perspective of your life and sets you on the path to self-fulfillment.

  1. Find a reason

Find something, a cause, a talent, a skill, that is special to you. It is time to focus on yourself. Acceptance is only foundational. You have to go all out to build that great life you wish for. Find something that gets you out I bed each morning. A driving force. Learn new skills, go on adventures, make new friends and engage in a cause you believe in. Getting involved fills you with new energy and zeal to deal with challenges that arise along the way.

  1. Set achievable goals and stay at them till you achieve them

Goals give you focus, keep you motivated, and are a great way to measure your progress. Set off on a pathway or journey to improve your life. Seek to become a better person on every front. Seek adventure and keep making new memories.

Starting over

Your health, career, relationships, finances, and indeed every area of your life will be more meaningful, purposeful, and powerful if you decide to let go of the past. Looking forward, in place of dwelling in the past, clears up mental and emotional space. At the end of the day, it is the courage you put into living each moment that makes life count. That courage to live your truest life: not the life that others expect you to live or a life based on what has happened to you. The life you truly want for yourself.

Learning how to stop thinking of bad memories is the first step in improving your self-image. Know that every difficult area can be unraveled and every painful memory can be successfully erased. Always remind yourself that you are growing and constantly evolving. Whatever happened was in the past, your future remains untouched, unsullied, unspoiled.