Why memories hang on like they do

Day 329.

I just love Dr. Glenn Doyle – and his ‘Use Your Damn Skills’ approach. This recent post from him grabbed me by the collar and all I could say was AHA! It said, listen up to the Doc – this will help you stop playing those same traumatic relationship snippets over and over – and over – again in your head!

From the Doc: “Certain bad memories have the hold they do on us because they’re entwined with our limbic system. They contain information that our brains consider vital to the fight-or-flight response. Our brains pay more attention to some memories than others, because they (our brains) figure that if we’re to avoid danger, we need to pay attention to the stuff encoded in those memories.”

The reason why certain memories don’t fade is because our brains are trying to keep us safe. Our brains figure that if we forget the details of those memories— if we let them become hazy, like normal memories tend to become— then we might also forget the warning signals that those memories have stored up in them.

As with all post traumatic symptoms, memory symptoms are just our brains trying to do us a solid. They’re trying to keep us safe, to protect us.” [read the whole article here]

Aha!  So my brain is trying to help me!

Knowing why I may be hanging on to these awful memories; because my brain wants to make sure they don’t ever, ever happen again!

Okay, I get it. Now how do I get these thoughts to stop?

The Doc continues: “One of the goals of therapy is to put bad and traumatic memories back into the ballpark of normal memories— where they can be allowed to fade and get hazy.

This can be done…but first of all we need to convince our brains that they no longer need to hang on to those memories.  The skill most important to getting out of flashback is called grounding.

Grounding skills are any skills that allow you to reestablish touch with the present moment. Look around. Identify three objects you see. Identify three colors you see. Ask yourself what the date and time is— and in the process of doing so, ask yourself how you would KNOW what the date and time is. Orient yourself. Every intervention for treating trauma has its roots in convincing our brains that we’re safe in the present moment.” [read the whole article here]

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