Best List on Triggering Your Repressed Memories

Mental disorders list: Experiencing a traumatic event can result in repressed memories, which unfortunately can trigger other painful conditions, like anxiety and depression. Although researchers believe recovered memories can be false memories, you may be able to recover your repressed memories by going to therapy, triggering your memories, or stopping your dissociative habits.

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Work with a therapist who is experienced in trauma. A trauma-focused therapist can help you address your past experiences. This may help you remember your repressed memories. Your therapist can help you whether or not you recover your memories. Even if you don’t remember what happened to you, your therapist can help you work through your issues and learn how to live a better life.

  • Going to an inexperienced therapist can do more harm than good if you’ve experienced a trauma. Ask your therapist about their education, specialized training, and past work history to make sure they’re properly qualified.
  • You can also check your potential therapist’s webpage to learn more about their experience and practice.

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Tell your therapist how you believe your memories are harming you. Consider why it’s important for you to remember what happened. Explain why you suspect you have repressed memories, as well as what you think might have happened. What feelings or mental health conditions are you experiencing that might stem from these memories? What have you been treated for in the past?

  • Your therapist needs to know what you want to change in your life. As they treat you, they can help you work toward these goals, even if you don’t recover all of your memories.
  • For example, you might have a lot of anxiety that you believe is tied to a negative experience you had when you were a small child. You could say, “My anxiety is making it impossible for me to relax. I always feel upset and nervous, and I think it’s because of something that happened to me while I spent the summer with my grandparents at age 7.”

Use trauma-focused talk therapy to help recover repressed memories. It’s a slow process, but talking out your experiences and feelings can help you slowly unravel memories that are hidden in your mind. Your therapist will listen as you talk about your current issues, as well as your past. They may also ask you questions. When you do talk therapy, your memories are able to come to the surface when you’re ready to remember.

  • Talk therapy provides a safe space for you to recover your repressed memories, as your therapist can help you deal with any traumatic memories that come back.
  • Talk therapy is considered the best way to recover your memories. It’s the safest, most effective way to remember repressed memories.

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Undergo cognitive-behavioural therapy to learn good coping skills. Your therapist will help you recognize problematic thought processes or behaviours. Then, they’ll introduce you to positive ways of dealing with these thoughts or behaviours. This will help you resolve the problems your repressed memories may be causing in your life, plus it could open you up to remembering what happened.

  • Remember, it’s possible to recover even if you don’t remember what happened.
  • For example, your therapist could help you learn to calm down extreme anger or use positive self-talk to cope with depression.

Keep your focus on being healthy in the present. A difficult past is very hard to overcome, but you deserve to enjoy your life. Don’t let old experiences keep you trapped in your past, as it will only cause you more pain. It’s only helpful to remember repressed memories if it helps you improve the issues that are bothering you.

  • Work on the goals you set with your therapist to keep moving forward.
  • Make mindfulness part of your everyday life to keep you grounded in the present.
  • Don’t speculate on what your repressed memories might be. It will cause more harm than good.

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Keep a journal to help you work through your memories. Feeling like you have repressed memories can be painful and stressful. Journaling can help you deal with your emotions, get to the root of your feelings, and possibly remember the past. Getting everything out on paper also helps you feel better. Record what’s happening to you now, as well as anything you remember of the past. When memories start to come back, write them down so you don’t forget them again.

  • Reading through your journal may help you piece together your memories.
  • Writing often may help you free thoughts or memories that are buried in your mind.

Use sensory-triggers to help you remember. Repressed memories may be tied to a specific state of mind. Engaging your 5 senses can help you return to that moment, though it may be painful for you. The sights, smells, sounds, feel, and tastes associated with your memory might trigger it. However, it’s best to not do this on your own, since the memories may bring back painful emotions or re-traumatize you.

  • For example, let’s say you want to remember something that happened at a party you attended. You might put on the clothes you were wearing, listen to the music that was playing at the party, look at photos from that night, and eat the same foods that were served at the party.
  • If you’re not sure where to get started, consider where you have memory gaps. For example, do you have lots of memories from when you were 6-years-old and 8-years-old, but none from when you were 7-years-old? This is a memory gap, so you might try to trigger memories from that age.
  • It’s best to work with a therapist if you’re going to try to trigger your repressed memories.

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Go back to the place where the event happened, if you can. Depending on what happened to you, returning to the place can help you remember. However, it might also be scary for you to go back to the place where it happened. Additionally, you may need other triggers that make you return to that time to recover your memories.

  • You may remember painful experiences, so don’t go by yourself. Ask someone you trust or your therapist to help you through this process.
  • Don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation, either physically or mentally. Avoid going back to a place where you may be hurt.
  • For example, you might go back to your hometown to retrace your steps in the hopes of recovering lost childhood memories. You might use familiar smells, your favorite childhood toys, and old photos to help trigger your memories.

Use hypnosis with caution. You might be drawn to hypnosis because it seems like an easy way to recover your memories. Since hypnosis alters your state of consciousness, you can access different parts of your mind and potentially recover your memories either in fragments or all at once. However, hypnosis also allows you to easily believe things that are told or suggested to you, even if they aren’t true. In some cases, this can create false memories, which are just as painful as real memories.

  • Some mental health professionals may suggest using hypnosis to recover your repressed memories. However, experts warn that it’s hard to distinguish between a real and false memory uncovered during hypnosis.
  • If you want to try hypnosis, look for a hypnotherapist who is experienced in working with people who’ve experienced a trauma. It’s best to work with a therapist or counselor who is also trained in hypnotherapy.
  • Go over the type of questions or suggestions the hypnotherapist will use to prompt you so you can make sure they aren’t leading you toward a particular type of memory. Make sure they record your session so you can listen to everything that it said.

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Focus on your feelings, instead. It’s likely that you want to recover your repressed memories because you’re dealing with painful emotions or want to improve your mental health. Fortunately, you don’t have to remember what happened to you in order to cope with those feelings. It’s enough to know that you’re dealing with emotions tied to past experiences. Trying to force a repressed memory to the surface can be more harmful than not remembering. Instead, learn new coping strategies to deal with your painful emotions moving forward. Additionally, work with a therapist to manage the thoughts and behaviors that you want to change.

  • For example, you might feel uncomfortable when people try to hug you. You don’t need to know the reason why you feel uncomfortable to work through that issue. It’s enough to know you feel this way and want to do something about it.
  • It’s best to work with a therapist if you believe your repressed memories are harming your mental health. They can help you work through trauma and use cognitive behavioral therapy to make positive changes in your life.

Watch for common symptoms of dissociation. When something bad happens to you, your mind may try to block out what is happening, which is called dissociation. Repressed memories happen when you are trying to dissociate yourself from a traumatic event. People who use dissociation to deal with painful experiences may dissociate in other ways as well. Stopping dissociation may help you recover your memories. Here are common symptoms of dissociation:

  • Having a blank or wandering mind.
  • Having a sensation that your world isn’t real.
  • Being detached from your life, environment, and/or self.
  • Feeling numb.
  • Feeling like you’re detached or spaced out.
  • Staring blankly or with eyes glazed over.
  • Feeling as though you’re watching your life from the outside.
  • Getting sleepy whenever you need to do something.
  • Having delayed reactions to things that happen to you.
  • Being unable to explain how you feel.

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Ground yourself in the present by engaging your 5 senses. When you ground yourself, you can bring your mind into the present, which often brings a sense of calm. Focusing on all 5 of your senses will help root you in your current location. This helps you stop dissociating and keep your thoughts on the present. If you’re struggling to engage all 5 senses, using just 1 can help you break your dissociative cycle. Here’s how:

  • Sight: describe the location, list items around you that are blue, look for a specific item, describe an interesting thing that’s nearby.
  • Sound: explain what’s happening in the moment aloud to yourself, listen to music, pick out the sounds you can hear.
  • Touch: notice how your body feels, feel the sensation of your feet on the ground, touch a textured item in your environment.
  • Smell: sniff the air and pick out the smells or take a whiff of an essential oil.
  • Taste: eat a small snack or stick out your tongue to taste the air.

Practice mindfulness to learn to live in the present. Being mindful means living in the moment. Dissociation takes you out of the present, but mindfulness can help you re-learn how to stay grounded in the moment. Here are a few tips to help you be more mindful:

  • Meditate at least 10 minutes a day by sitting still and focusing on your breath. You can also use a free meditation app like Headspace, Calm, or Insight Timer for a guided meditation.
  • Go for a nature walk and engage your 5 senses.
  • Eat alone and in silence. Focus on each bite of food, noticing how it tastes, smells, and feels in your mouth.
  • Count your breaths.
  • Put all of your focus on one activity, such as knitting, painting, wood carving, or building an arduino.

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Work with a mental health professional. The best way to treat a dissociative disorder is to undergo cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy. Your therapist can help you remember and work through the traumatic experiences at the root of your dissociative disorder. They can also help you resolve any conflicts within yourself that arise from your dissociation.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy helps you learn new ways to think or behave. You can learn how to cope in a healthy way and how to change problematic thoughts or behaviours.
  • Dialectical behavioural therapy teaches you how to manage your emotions, be in the moment, and avoid conflicts in your relationships.

More tips

  • Don’t assume having a condition like depression, anxiety, or anger issues means you have repressed memories. Each of these conditions has many possible causes that often have nothing to do with trauma.

  • When you recover repressed memories, they usually come back all at once if they really happened. If you find yourself slowly piecing together what happened, don’t force yourself to fill in the gaps. This can put you at risk for a false memory.

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  • Never attempt to trigger repressed memories without the supervision of a mental health professional.

  • Recovered memories can sometimes be false memories. Use caution when trying to remember your past experiences.

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