You really can forget your worries.
Imagine there’s something you keep worrying about. OK, so you don’t need to imagine – we all worry about something, don’t we? It could be a meeting, your health, relationships, anything at all. Bring it to mind & think about it for a moment. Now consider this: if you woke up tomorrow and couldn’t remember this was a problem, how would you know to worry about it?
So in theory, all you’ve got to do is forget your worries and life would automatically improve.
Simple isn’t it? Therapy over.
Unfortunately, as we all know, it doesn’t work like that, does it?
But why not? We forget stuff all the time.
How come it’s so easy to forget something like your car keys or meeting your friends for a coffee (damn, I should’ve been there half an hour ago…), but the stuff we’d love to forget just stays front and centre all the time?
How does forgetting work, then?
It’s all to do with that old saying, neurons that fire together wire together. The more a memory’s used, the easier it springs to mind. The less it’s used, the more it fades. In simple terms, this is why some memories stay whilst others get forgotten.
Unfortunately, this is why it’s so hard to forget your worries. You see, what makes a worry a worry, (and not just an unpleasant thought), is that you think about it all the time. It doesn’t matter whether what you worry about is in the past or the future, it just keeps firing those neurons, so guess what? You keep right on worrying.
Why can’t I just try to forget?
The problem’s that ‘trying’ is an active process. If you try not to think about a Blue Elephant, straight away you think about a blue elephant.
In order to try to not think about a thing, your mind’s got to think about first in order to know what it’s supposed to try not to think about.
So what does work?
Forgetting isn’t a deliberate thing. It just happens. Like not remembering every space you’ve ever parked your car in. You need to mimic the not-on-purpose-ness of proper forgetting.
Think of random unrelated stuff. The first thoughts that come to mind. Like what you had for lunch last Tuesday or who you’d share your last Rolo with, (I’m showing my age now). Maybe the weather, that’s always good for us Brits. Apparently it’s going hit 30°C this week, I’ll need to get the fan down from the attic…and so on.
In the same way that I’m rambling across these things with you, this is how your mind naturally works, just jumping from one thought to another loosely connected one. And accidentally ignoring what used to be there.
Successful forgetting happens when there’s sufficient distraction together with active thinking about anything that isn’t the thing you were…you know, trying to forget.
I mean it works, doesn’t it?
You weren’t thinking about that blue elephant you were trying not to think about.
But now that I’ve reminded you you weren’t thinking about it, you’ve gone and remembered it…
Thinking about unrelated things helps your mind to forget naturally. What we’ve just done is great in the short term but you might need something more to help bed it in for the long term.
I’ll be writing about that in early August, so do keep an eye out for it…
- (UPDATE: ‘Turning down the worry alarm‘ has been published & there’s a hypnotherapy mp3 for you too).
In the meantime, if you’d like to find out how I can help, leave a message for me here.