How to Forget Something Disturbing

Train your mind to focus on positive situations when you're troubled.

Incredible as it may sound, 60,000 thoughts flit through our brains each day. A good portion of those thoughts are ones we had the day before. This makes trying to forget something disturbing even more difficult. Whether it's a disturbing image that has engraved itself on your mind's eye or something disturbing that has actually happened to you, there are coping mechanisms that will set you on the path to -- if not forgetting entirely -- at least relegating the image or event to a less burdensome memory.

Turn off the television. During newscasts or nighttime drama series, disturbing images flit across the screen at a staggering rate. News that in the past would have taken a week or more to reach an audience is now available as it happens. That leaves room for the unpredictable to happen; and if you’re not on guard, you could be witness to something that reminds you of your disturbing memory. If you’re trying to forget something disturbing, avoid watching television or at least tune into uplifting or humorous shows. When you have the choice to stay away from reminders of what you’ve experienced or seen, take it.

Meditate as a way of reducing the disturbing memory. The value of meditation lies not only in its ability to slow down your breathing and heart rate but, if practiced regularly, can help you forget or, at the very least, tamp down the effects of something disturbing. If it's too soon to settle yourself down in a quiet place alone with your thoughts, take a walk in nature. If you're lucky enough to live near conservation areas or suburban park lands --- mountains or the sea --- sit for awhile and let your eyes be filled with the splendor of nature. Take deep, measured lungs full of air and remind yourself that there's more to this world than disturbing images.

Build a safe environment. Make your home your haven. Put on some old clothes and do some vigorous house cleaning. Washing and scouring each surface, from floor to ceiling, can become a symbolic act for forgetting about something disturbing. Toss out any old items that you haven’t used in years. Clean the windows so that when you look outside, you’ll be viewing the world clearly. Fill your home with happy, nurturing experiences and people.

Stop talking about the disturbing event or image. Of course, when you first experienced it, you needed to share what you saw and how you felt with friends or family. Often people will share their own memories of something disturbing, thereby making you feel less alone. But dwelling on it in conversation can become disturbing in itself and prevent you from moving forward. Another technique is to write it down. Record the event in all its disturbing detail then either shred the piece of paper, flush it down the toilet or burn it and blow away the ashes.

  • Give it time. Depending on the severity of what you've seen or experienced, you'll need time to recover. Spend as much of your free time, as possible, on positive thoughts and experiences.

Linda Kaban is a certified yoga teacher and professional life coach who specializes in helping people achieve their fitness goals. With a bachelor's degree in the humanities, Kaban has been writing since 1998 and has been published in YOGALife magazine along with other healthy living publications.