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Using bad memories to protect yourself


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I've been in therapy for three years, my main issues are past upsetting memories and I have never been able to let them go. I was doing some research and I just realized why I've never been able to let them go, it's because I never want something like that to happen again so I keep the memories stored as a warning to stop myself from making the same mistake again. Some people might see this as a good thing, but I have so many bad memories that I literally can't do anything in life and I pretty much stay home all of the time because I am scared something upsetting will happen and it will be another bad memory and another thing I can't do.

One of bad memories is being made fun of by grocery store clerks for what I was buying (i like to stock up and they would make fun of how much i was buying, this happened 3 times with different stores), so I never go to clerks now and only use the self checkout. The issue is if I get rid of the bad memory I still won't go to a clerk and the reasoning will be what happened in the past because I don't want it to happen again thus making me remember what happened and the memory is brought back to life again and again every time I go to the store. The only way that I would go to a clerk is if I completely forgot about the incidents and I literally had zero recollection of them, which seems near impossible but that is what I would like. It seems to be a catch-22. Is there really a way to get rid of a bad memory if a person uses it to protect themselves from being hurt emotionally so it doesn't happen again or do you keep them to learn from the past?

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So sorry that this is happening to you!!!  Do the bad memories concern incidents where you lost self-esteem or were they incidents involving other losses to you?  Being made fun of, being judged, being criticized could be incidents where self-esteem is threatened or lost.  There is something that helps me with those kinds of memories, helps me get past them.  I would be happy to share that.  But perhaps what you are experiencing is something else?  In any case, I am really sorry that you are going through such a terrible ordeal!!!   - epictetus

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