It may be the whiff of a certain perfume, the way the light reflects over the wet cobblestone, the sight of a building or the mention of a too familiar name, that summon the ghosts of our pasts that come to haunt us. The feelings, the emotions, and the whole story comes into clear focus, and we are so overwhelmed by the experience that we might venture to dig deeper, tracing our steps back to that time, to those events that were painful or sad.
Some long-lost ghosts may make us half-smile while others beg to be buried. We can’t erase all our ghosts entirely. Our brain stores more than mere events. It stores everything that surrounds them; the scent, the colors, the happiness or sadness we felt at that time. They all remain hidden at the back of our minds, sitting, waiting to come back to us inadvertently. Waiting for a trigger to beckon them back.
Can we avoid those triggers?
We can avoid some triggers. Such as places, but even if we avoid them, they might still make their way back into our thoughts. We can choose to face them by repeatedly going back to them until we make new memories.
Scent and other more subtle reminders that enter our thoughts through our senses are unavoidable. We can’t go back to those and remove the memories. It’s too much work. Imagine trying to get used to a perfume you hate because of the memories that are attached to it. It’s easier to stay away from it all together. Other scents, such as the pancakes your mom used to make, are not the kind you can erase and probably shouldn’t.
Don’t wallow in painful memories.
Let them come and release them. Don’t sit and recreate the whole event. Feel it and either talk it over with someone so it doesn’t get the best of you, or jump into an activity that will take you entirely away from the ghost.
I have my ghosts, and I’ve wallowed enough in them to know that it doesn’t do me any good. What works for me now is to immediately move onto the next thing. Get involved in something that keeps me from indulging in the re-run. That was yesterday, now is a new day.
Of course, they will be back, but with practice it becomes easier to let the ghosts go and not allow them to overpower or paralyze me. I’m not staying stuck in the past. Been there, done that. Over!