The stress and emotional strain that comes from enduring difficult times makes it understandable that we would like to forget them as soon as they’re over. But a problem arises that we are likely to fall into them again if we become so averse to reflecting on them.
For instance, if you are a person that procrastinates on assignments until the last minute, the stress of finishing an assignment in that time constraint can be stressful.
If you don’t reflect on the consequences of your decision to procrastinate, you might repeat the same action and find yourself in constant stress.
There is value in observing past difficult times with objectivity and empathy for the ways we behaved during those difficult times.
1. You never truly forget.
You will never completely forget the traumas that you experience. Either you consciously remember or your body remembers and manifests the trauma with insomnia or through extreme stress.
You can cause yourself unnecessary stress by trying to force yourself to forget your past difficulties. It is better to find tools to cope with them, preferably with the help of a mental health professional.
2. They can teach you something.
This is not to say that the traumas you go through had to happen to you as this is a dismissive and inherently untrue statement. Instead, you can respond to the traumas that happened to you by deciding what you learned from them.
For example, after ending a toxic friendship, you can reflect on the toxic behaviors that were present and decide on what you will no longer allow in your relationships. By keeping past experiences in mind, you can create new and necessary boundaries in your life.
Difficult times can also teach how resilient you are. In the midst of difficult times it’s often hard to imagine better days. But once you overcome those difficulties, you can recognize your own resilience and accept the fact that bad times are temporary. Reflecting on difficult times can help you accept this as truth and prepare for them in the future.
3. You cannot inform your experiences.
The decisions we make should be informed by past experiences and you can do yourself a disservice by ignoring hardships. If you decide not to meditate on difficult experiences or recall them with a mental health professional, it can be hard to make positive changes.
For example, if you struggled during a semester of school, you can reflect on your courses and make changes to your curriculum.
Maybe you overburdened yourself or signed up for classes that you thought you would be more interested in than you were. It’s important not to view these as personal failings but instead as opportunities for you to understand yourself better.
During difficult times, it’s understandable to shut down or act on survival mode. However, once those difficult times inevitably end or improve, it’s important to reflect on those moments either on your own, with someone that you trust or a mental health professional. It is through reflection, rather than forgetting, that we can hope to make positive change.