How to Manage Painful Memories of Past Mistakes

The problem with painful mistakes is that they are painful. Our body and our mind do not like pain. When we experience pain, our body goes into survival mode. When that occurs, we feel anxious.

The key to diminishing the effect of painful memories is to diminish the bodies need to switch into survival mode. This is done by embracing the pain and the memory with a sense of calm. We can be in pain and still be calm. When we have a hurt tooth or a stubbed toe, we can feel the throbbing and still remain calm.

If we remember the painful memory and we feel the pain, the worst thing we can do is freak out about it. When a child gets a scratch, the more the child panics the worse the pain is. As adults, we learn that if we simply do not panic, a scratch isn’t all that bad. We might even forget that it is there.

Painful memories cause pain. The pain is painful. It hurts. We don’t like it. When we panic, the pain increases. Memories of similar mistakes rush into our mind. We start beating ourselves up. We dwell on the problems and make packs with ourselves that we will start avoiding situations and people that may result in us making mistakes again. The more we panic, the longer the pain lasts and the more intense it becomes.

Just like the physical pain, calmly acknowledging and accepting emotional pain diminishes the feeling. The same goes for the painful memory. It is not the memory that makes us cringe, as much as it is the pain that goes with the memory. The memory of the mistake, is just a memory of a mistake. Own it, accept it, and don’t overestimate its impact. Embrace the memory and the pain in a calm manner. If we can tolerate the emotional pain and discomfort in a calm manner, the pain will melt away within minutes. It is only our fear and intolerance of the emotion that makes the pain prolong.