Cleaning Out the Mental Attic

Let’s do a little follow-up, regarding last week’s “Mental Housekeeping” message. A valid question has been asked: “How do you clean out all the hurts and go about this mental housekeeping?” It’s a fair question that deserves an answer.

Hurts are the most difficult things to get over, because of the emotional imprint we add to the experience, and then store that memory in our subconscious. Each time we remember the incident or situation, we also recall the pain and hurt, which just solidifies the memory. Neural research now shows that we slightly change our memories when we revisit them, providing the opportunity to intensify those hurts. Some people spend their entire lives purposely remembering old hurts, and now we know that they add another layer before putting the memory “away” until the next re-visit.

It takes a fair amount of work to put those emotional memories into a different perspective, and a lot of that work is self-reflection. Asking yourself the questions, “What else might have been going on, that I might have missed?” and “What was it inside of me that caused me to react in the way I did?”  Sometimes, those self-answers are more revealing than we expect.

The good news is that, while we are taking the time to answer these questions (and any others that come to mind during these times of self-reflection), we are cleaning out old mental cobwebs, dusting off even older memories that we may have buried away, under other memories, and illuminating our mental attics.

Self-reflection is like uncovering windows and throwing them open, to let sunlight and fresh air into closed spaces. The light allows us to “see” each memory in full with no shadows, and the fresh “breezes” give us a chance to “blow away the dust” and change our perspective.

What we decide to keep or throw away is up to each of us. Sometimes, an altered perspective allows us to toss the hurt or the pain, and create a new memory of a new lesson learned.