I met a lot of unique individuals when I was serving in the military. I might have thought some people were special because I never met anyone like them, and they probably thought I was unique too. BUT!! One particular soldier named K was uniquely weird to all of us. He had nicknames for almost everyone, and he would say it EVERY SINGLE time he saw us, which was quite often! And mine was “Peking duck,” go figure! (rolling my eyes) So, when I think of Specialist K, not often I swear, “Peking duck” would definitely pop in my head because I didn’t have many other conversations or encounters with him other than that.
We have particular memories of people around us that stand out from others. The more we visit that memory, the more we remember. Some bring us joy and happiness, others…Let’s just say it could be toxic to our mental and physical health. That is one of the reasons why it is so hard after breaking up with someone. The more we think about those memories of that person who is no longer in our life, the more we remember those memories. The biggest reason why we think those old memories is because we can no longer create new ones with that person. When memories bring pain rather than joy, it becomes torturous. I am sure we all experience that from one degree to another.
I used to get embarrassed very easily. Let’s say I tripped in front of my whole class. I would replay that in my head over and over again, thinking how embarrassing it was and what everyone must have thought of me when it happened. It could go on for a while until something else grasped my attention. As I got older, I became better at not caring too much about those unnecessarily torturous memories. But I still have a habit of thinking and talking about old memories with people I hang out with. I recently realized that when I hold on to old memories too tight, it prevents me from creating new ones.
Can you recall what you thought about yesterday? How about last week? How about last month? Last year? Certain moments, yes, but not all for sure! Those fillers seem insignificant, but it makes up us, doesn’t it? Girls always talk about boys, relationships, emotions, feelings. The more you talk about it, the more you think about it, the more energy you spend on it, and resulting it never leaves your head. And that is one of the reasons we can’t focus on our lives at this current moment. Your mind is probably wandering to all different places as you are reading this.
We all need to learn how to forget, and being able to forget will open so many other doors for us. But it is not easy to forget, especially it’s something like being called “Peking duck” for three years. So, what do we do to get out of this misery? Rule number one, don’t FORCE yourself to forget! Your mind will play tricks on you to make sure you never forget it. Distract yourself! Trick your mind instead. There is something way more interesting than thinking about whatever you were fixated on. Watch a cartoon, move on to a different task, Clean the house, count how many steps you need to take from the bedroom to the bathroom. Just do something! STOP AND MOVE ON. LITERALLY. Along with engaging in life, another path to helping the brain actively forget is to make a conscious decision to let go of resentments, grudges, and past disappointments. The more we dwell on a hurtful memory or ruminate over the events, the stronger the neuronal connections become around the memory.
And I will challenge myself not to talk about what we did when I hang out with friends I haven’t seen for a while. I want to focus on what we are doing now! When you talk too much about what you did, it’s almost like you don’t like what you are doing now… Think about that! Our memories are meant to fade, we are designed that way. We have pictures to help us to remember, but the capacity of our memory is actually limited. What do you really want to spend it on? I will let go of that fall I did in front of my classroom and that time when I accidentally showered in the men’s locker room. What would you forget to make space for the next fun adventure?