Thinking Out Loud: Precious memories, oh how they linger

John T. Catrett III
ONHL Hospice Chaplain

If you were to ask someone what their best and worst memories are/were, most people could probably tell you, and in detail. Although we like to focus on the ones that are happy, fun, exciting, and loving, there may be others that we would like to forget, yet somehow can't. Maybe it's the loss of a loved one, or being treated poorly by someone, or being abused physically or emotionally, being in an accident, seeing something that was disturbing, losing a job, etc.

For some individuals, these traumatic experiences replay in their minds like they were yesterday, and for others, they become triggered by day-to-day experiences. If you feel yourself becoming stressed, anxious, unsettled, and sad, you can bet that somewhere within you is a memory that is being set off, even if you aren't sure what the initial memory was. We create memories upon memories every day whether we are aware of it or not. We are adding to our memory banks and we are the keepers.

When we are joyful we are recalling from our joy banks so to speak, adding to our happy experiences. The same holds true for the unpleasant ones; we are remembering things from our sorrow or pain banks. While we want to experience and remember only the fond memories, we must also learn to heal the painful ones, as they will continue to play out in our lives in various ways. How do you begin to transform painful memories?

Don't worry; be happy. You don't have to go back and relive them to move forward. You can learn and grow from them whenever they appear, and in whatever form they present themselves. Whenever you experience judgment, pain, sorrow, injustice, suffering, anger, etc., you are tapping into a memory, whether it's individual or collective. This is an opportunity for you to apply healing.

Each person may experience these differently and at varying degrees due to the memories they are tapping into, but because we are all united in this clearing and healing, it begins with you. When you clear, heal, clean or polish these unpleasant feelings, memories, programs, thoughts or perceptions, rest assured you are opening the vault of inspiration and insights that literally can change your outcomes and the world as you know and see it now.

I don't know about you, but I look forward to continuing to polish these known and unknown memories each and every time they arise. We are all connected to the greatest source of brilliance, and we become more radiant through each and every clearing. Our lights shine brighter every time we do. Try not to label memories or emotions as being bad; instead, see them as opportunities for healing and growth.

How do we heal painful memories?

1. Recognize the emotions and judgments as they arise in you. Don't try to tune them out or pretend they don't exist.

2. Embrace or befriend them. Remember, they are happening for a reason and that reason is for you to heal that place in you.

3. Be at peace with the feelings and memories rather than at war or avoidance of them.

4. Breathe love into them. When they surface breathe tenderness into them, as they are a tender spot within you right now.

5. Say thank you to God. You might think by being grateful for this memory/emotion that you are condoning someone, or something. Rather, you are saying thank you to the God of the Universe for this opportunity to heal and to remember we are not separate, but united.

6. Listen for any direction, insight, or inspiration. When you transform what's being generated in you, you are opening your inner ears and eyes to see and hear the wisdom without ego's agendas.

Healing these unpleasant feelings isn't about expectations of how things should have been or should be, but rather an internal and external continuation of polishing so the brilliance in you can shine through brighter and brighter. How can this not impact those around you in a better way?

How long will healing of memories take?

As long as it does! Not the answer you want to hear, I'm sure.

It's not a "bad" thing; it's wonderful. You are continually healing the world through experiencing more happiness and peace; how can that not be "good?"

Don't worry; you will be reaping the ongoing benefits by living more from your joy bank and adding to it as it cascades over your days for your lifetime.

These techniques will assist you in gaining insights to healing your pain bank and filling your joy bank.

John T. Catrett III is chaplain for ONHL Hospice. He can be reached at (918) 352-3080 or