Ah, the dreaded memories after a breakup. Whether they’re good ones or bad ones, they can still stir up a hell of a lot of pain when everything is too fresh and raw. So what do you do? How do you deal with memories after a breakup? Well, my friends – I might just have the answer. So listen up!
In this article, we’ll run through a step by step process to changing the way you see things, removing any intense negative emotion that a memory makes you feel, and ultimately reduce the power that these memories have. First off however, let’s understand a little more about how memories work.
Why Some Memories Stick With You More
Without getting totally technical on you now, and sharing the nitty-gritty of what’s relevant for this article, it’s worth knowing that it’s EMOTIONS that we remember most vividly.
If something happens and it gives you a strong emotional response, like anger, sadness, fear, rejection, it gets flagged in your brain and sticks far more easily. This is because when we have an emotional experience, part of our brain (the amygdala – which is the emotional centre of the brain) actually regulates the hippocampus (which plays a big role in learning and memory) to allow it to form a more detailed and stronger memory.
This is actually happens to try to protect us. After all, our emotions are there for our survival – so by remembering situations that caused these kind of emotions, we’re then more likely to be triggered if we find ourselves in a similar situation again and therefore prevent the same thing from happening again. So it makes sense right? Even if it means we’re sometimes stuck with the things we DON’T want to think about, because – quite simply – they hurt.
Memories are also strengthened by story…
Whats more, if there’s a story attached to that emotional memory, it also sticks with you far stronger. It’s why marketers often use storytelling – because they know that storytelling gives you more associations and structures your brain to remember it far easier. It’s not just a single event – everything’s been pieced together and firmed up in your mind.
The thing is, we end up doing this ourselves too, without even realising it. When something painful happens, we tend to go over it, scrutinise over it, build it up, feed it with emotion, which is another reason why it sticks.
For example, with a breakup, we replay key parts and individual events that led up to the ultimate outcome, pulling it into this big breakup story in your mind. It wasn’t just the facts, the actual event itself which is, “we broke up.” The picture is far bigger, far more emotionally triggered. Each stage of the story brings up its own bit of pain – the good times included, because it’s all linked in with that end split.
Without even meaning to, you are making your memories after a breakup far harder to deal with, because you’ve told yourself a bigger story about it. You’ve created this huge narrative – one which hurts.
Memories Can Be Warped…
What you also need to understand is that we can also warp our memories, and we often end up doing this – again – not even intentionally. We can’t remember EVERY SINGLE THING – every single second of our life. It would be impossible right? So we tend to just remember the central aspect, the core event of the instance, which is usually closely tied to when your emotions are heightened the most.
The moment he said it was over, the feel of dread just before, the warning signs that it was going to happen prior to that.
We may forget some of the peripheral details – especially the longer that time goes on, because all of our memories deteriorate over time. What you’re then left with are the KEY memories, and the rest is bulked out using your pre-existing knowledge to fill in the gaps. This can end up making things feel worse than what they actually were at the time.
It’s like if you stay in the wrong relationship because you DREAD breakups. You’ve associated so much pain to them because you were unable to cope after your past breakup. But what you’re not seeing – is it for how it really is. You’ve heightened it with emotions and branched it out.
Like we said, we have to do a certain degree of reconstruction when it comes to memory – to piece them back together. This means however, your memories are flexible and you can therefore actually change the way you see it, which ultimately results in changing the way you feel about it too. The end result? You take away the power of your memories after a breakup = just what we want!
How To Change Your Memories After a Breakup
So how do you do it? Well, now you have the understanding behind how your memories work, it’s quite simple. When you think back to your memories after a breakup, I want you to:
1) Reduce the power of the emotion that is attached to each situation.
Break it down, feel the emotion but don’t fear it. Simply sit with it. Understand that that is was a natural emotional response to that situation at that moment in time, but it doesn’t have to weigh on you so heavy now. It’s in the past. You’re no longer in that place. So you don’t have to keep re-living it with such emotional involvement. Instead, you just want to see it for what it was. And this will get easier the more you FEEL those emotions but decide to no longer hold onto them.
To explore this further, I’m going to give you a full process for dealing with emotions and learning to let them go properly. If you’re interested in this, please subscribe to our site below and I’ll notify you when it’s live. In the meantime, I think this post will help on building emotional stability, as will this one, on key relaxation techniques to calm you down when those memories are triggering these past emotions.
But really focus on letting them go. Swat up on it. Because that’s what’s going to make these memories after a breakup far easier to deal with.
As Joe Dispenza so rightly said, “A memory without the emotional charge is called wisdom…”
We want to take away the emotion from these memories so that they no longer affect you in the same way.
2) Re-write your breakup story.
Did you know, if you’re told something enough, you can actually end up believing it is true. Honestly. There was a story of a woman who ended up convincing herself that one man was the person who committed a crime on her – so much so that when she looked the true criminal in the eye, she didn’t even know it was him.
You boost the belief of a memory by confirming it or repeating it. We’ve already discovered that we re-piece our own memories back together right? You have the core events that you know are true, but the rest, is down to interpretation. So, what I want you to do is CHALLENGE the bits in between, tweak or change them, then repeat them to change your memories after a breakup.
For instance, let’s say your partner started pulling away from you leading up to the breakup. He was disinterested, preoccupied in fact. And you got it into your head there was someone else on the scene. This made you feel worthless – like you weren’t good enough. But was it a FACT? No. So instead, re-write the story so that it was more about the two of you growing apart – which is natural, normal, it’s still kind of sad, but it’s not as emotionally turbulent.
Or, okay, lets say your ex did cheat on you, but your narrative is because he never cared about you, again, you weren’t good enough and everything was just this massive waste of time. He constantly went behind your back, was making a mockery of you the whole time, and didn’t value you. Or so you say… But do you have to see it that way? No. Instead change your memory so that it is simply a mistake that he made – but a mistake he has to live with. It was no reflection on you. He probably cares far more than you believe and regardless of this, it no longer matters. The situation was what it was, but it doesn’t have to be as painful as you keep replaying. The story can be far simpler.
And hey – I know this is easier said than done. But try it. And keep trying it. Because it will work. There’s evidence that it will work. As all of this is based on science.
Memory and imagination is so closely linked…
The same ‘machinery’ in our mind that brings all the things we experience into a memory, also stimulates our imagination. It’s wired in the same way. Why? Because our memories allow us to anticipate future events, based on what we know and remember. It’s what helps us to see potential obstacles, spot the red flags and warning signs to better prepare.
We’re not taking that away. We’re still keeping the lessons we learnt from our experiences, but we’re changing the overall memories after a breakup so that they no longer hurt us. That’s all.
We know that our memories are already a little unreliable, so we’re working with this knowledge to better support our mental wellbeing. This means ‘imagining’ or choosing to see something in a more empowering way. And why on earth not? It’s a choice after all – in how we decide to bulk out the way we remember something. We’re just turning knowledge into power in this area, to make the choice a more conscious one. You see?
It’s Time To Let Go Now
Don’t let your past experiences, your memories after a breakup, continue to haunt you. Accept them, feel the pain, learn the lesson, and then let it go by shifting the way you choose to see or remember it.
Whatever happened, is no reflection on you as a person, and if you did make mistakes which is why those mistakes that are playing on your mind even more, follow this process to work through them, allowing yourself to accept, learn, forgive and move forward.
The power is in your hands, far more than you know it. And I promise you – if you take in everything in this article, and actually apply it – things will get easier. Stop living in the past, and start moving forward from where you are right now.
Take care. Remember, you’re not alone in this. I’m right here beside you!