A spring clean for avoidance


Overflowing cupboards?

I am sure every household has it: The cupboard where things get shoved into while you hold the rest of the contents back with another arm before you close the door with your foot. At any moment this cupboard could swing open and spill it contents on the floor – or worse, fall all over you. Avoidance of the linen or Tupperware cupboard, perhaps?

Sometimes our memories can be like this. Uncontrollable, they spill out whenever they feel like it. Painful. Perhaps even shameful. It’s easy to succumb to the temptation to avoid these feared memories, but is it helpful?

A solution to memory avoidance

The good news is that this can be easily fixed! Like the linen or Tupperware cupboard, a good spring clean could be really helpful. You can throw out the items you no longer need, do some mending, and rediscover those old favorites. Plus neatly arranging and storing items could actually create a sense of space. Although there may be some dirt or bugs that crawl out, there is nothing that a wet cloth or some Doom can’t take care of.
Similarly, you may find it beneficial to unpack some of your memories in the safety of a therapeutic space. Some memories may need mending, others could be suitable for forgetting, and others could be joyfully rediscovered. The benefit is that the cupboard (or memory) will no longer be avoided, dreaded, hidden away. You can gain control of it.

This will not necessarily be easy, or pretty. Probably mostly messy.

But I am convinced that it can also be very beneficial indeed.

Tips for facing those memories

Start off by asking yourself some questions:

  1. What memories am I avoiding?
  2. How is it helping me to avoid it?
  3. What would the benefit be if I had control of the memory?

Engage in some remembering:

Counteract avoidance

Try to rewrite the memory in the present tense. Write it in as much detail as you can. Incorporate all your senses (sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste) and any thoughts or feelings you were aware of at the time.

Process the activity:

  1. Was it as bad as I anticipated this being?
  2. What did I learn about myself then?
  3. What did I learn about myself now?

For some additional input to help you deal with those troublesome memories, be sure to make an appointment with me.