Free yourself from the past


We all carry the memory of traumatic events from the past that we would prefer to forget about. I'm sure you can think of one of your own - a memory that triggers a negative feeling in you such as fear, shame, guilt or even anger.

Sometimes the memory of these events can begin to affect us adversely in our day-to-day lives, causing distress and anxiety. This is because the way we remember something is never the exact way it happened - each time we revisit a memory we change it slightly, distorting or even deleting some of the information over time. Our memories become our own personal interpretation of what happened, and this explains why two people who experienced the same event may remember it very differently. They may react to it very differently too, as we also attach an emotional interpretation onto our memories. Our brains retain only the information that is important to us - the rest is discarded and forgotten over time.


A question I get asked often by clients who are desperate to feel differently about past events is - "Can't you just make me forget it/him/her?"

Sadly, I can't. And nor would I want to - because every experience we've ever had, good or bad, has important lessons for us. We tend to remember bad experiences much more effectively for this very reason - they serve to protect us from something similar ever happening to us again. But this is not helpful when the memory begins to cause problems in our present, and interferes with us living a happy life.


We need a way to modify that memory, so the lessons remain but no longer affect us to such a crippling extent.


Fortunately, this is where I AM able to help!


NLP and hypnotherapy allows me to work with another person to reprogram how they see and respond to a memory. By taking the emotional charge away it becomes possible to react to it as you would any other normal, non-threatening memory; it fundamentally changes the memory. You'll still remember what happened, but you'll remember it differently, and with different emotions attached to it.


Typically, we do this by dissociating the person from the memory - allowing them to see it through someone else's eyes rather than through their own and being immersed in the experience. Then we make changes to the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic elements of the memory. So, I might begin by asking the person to see a movie of their upsetting memory running on a TV screen. We make the screen go fuzzy and out of focus, obscuring the picture. We change it from colour to black and white. Then we push the TV away into the distance so the picture becomes small and indistinct. Then we imagine there is some interference on the channel, and there is some crazy, silly music playing out of the speakers. Eventually we make that TV disappear completely ... taking with it all the negatively charged emotions.

Memory is an incredible and malleable thing ... and thank goodness it is, because that means that hypnotherapists like me can help people let go of traumatic and troubling memories once and for all.


This article was first published in the New Stour & Avon magazine on 19 November 2021