Decluttering Part 3: Banish bad memories

Decluttering is one of my main ongoing goals that I’ve had these past couple of years. It’s something that takes time, especially if you’ve accumulated a lot of things and experiences. One thing I want to declutter is my mind and heart. To live a happy life, I strongly believe that we need to let go of things that make us unhappy, so I thought I’d write a post on how I’ve been banishing some of my bad memories.

I recently blogged about how an acro yoga teacher Vicky had pointed out abnormalities about my body in front of the class, which was an embarrassing and upsetting experience. What I didn’t realise was that whilst I had forgotten about it (it was over two years ago), the memory was still hanging out at the back of my brain and it was triggered to the front when I was exposed to acro yoga again. Read about it here.

My friends had encouraged me to replace that bad memory with a good one, but I wasn’t ready at the time. I thought that maybe talking to Vicky about it might help, but I didn’t get the response I was expecting (compassion and acknowledgment). Instead, I got a defensive reply. I knew then that I had to deal with banishing this bad memory in a different way.

There are many ways in which memories can be triggered – it can be via any of our senses. It could be a place, an object, a song, a smell, something you ate, or even the tactile sensation of something. I remember when I was trying to get over a boyfriend many years ago, I was triggered by the feeling of the fan on my skin! I know, crazy right? It was because we used to put the fan on all the time whenever we’d have a snooze on a crazy hot Melbournian summer’s day. I suddenly started to feel sad, and had to turn the fan off immediately.

On Friday, I went back to the studio where Vicky had body shamed me. I was a little nervous, but I was ready. I still remembered exactly where it was, and walked up the front stairs. There was the bench that Dee and I had sat on, chatting whilst we were waiting for the studio doors to open. I looked through the glass doors and knew exactly which part of the room I was, and what position I was in when Vicky made the comments. When I got there I was a bit early, and was the only student there with the teacher.

I told the teacher briefly about my story and how it had been my first time back in over two years. I took a restorative yoga class, not because I was avoiding acro yoga, but because I feel that restorative yoga is a lovely way to relax and it’s something I want to do more of. In fact, when I had emailed the studio to check that Vicky was no longer working there, I was informed that they stopped offering acro yoga a long time ago. I was not surprised at all given what my experience had been. I’m sure others picked up the bad juju too.

Anyway, the class was run beautifully. The teacher had a lovely smelling mist that filled the room, and some meditative music. She had a gentle voice and did some nice adjustments. I felt so good at the end that I nearly forgot about the lady who had a massive coughing fit! It was one of those really long, choking fits where if I were that person, I would’ve left the room so as not to disturb others. The sassy side of me wanted to ask, “Is that a smoker’s cough or are you trying to infect the whole class?” … but then I told myself to be kind and just focus on my own practice and I totally forgot about it by the end of the class.

This studio allows you to leave your mat there, and since I have a different mat for Ashtanga, I thought I’d do that. I asked the teacher if I could leave my mat, which was my way of saying, “Thank you for replacing my bad memory with a good one, I will be coming back”. I’ve already booked myself in for another restorative yoga class with the same teacher. I was proud of myself for facing my demons. If I keep going to this studio for relaxing restorative classes, eventually I know that I’ll forget about my one bad experience and associate the studio as the place I go to find inner peace.

It’s not always easy or possible to go back and replace bad memories with new, good ones. However, if there is an opportunity to do so, I would encourage you to go ahead. Maybe you need gradual exposure to the particular trigger, and that’s okay. People handle things differently. I knew that I needed to get rid of that memory because it was giving me negative vibes, so I made the bold decision to go back to the same studio, whereas others might just avoid going there and create good memories somewhere else.

My next post in my “Decluttering” series will be about clothes… this will be a big one, as my wardrobe is massive! I have been getting rid of what feels like a lot, but there is still so much. I recently threw out the hoodie I wore every day whilst I was in hospital, because I didn’t want to be reminded of that time. Also, it was a hoodie that an ex-boyfriend had bought me so I felt a little weird still wearing it. I also sold a dress on eBay that I had worn with that same ex on one of our dates. It’s a cute dress but I can’t see myself wearing it again because my style has changed since then, and again, even though we ended on good terms, I don’t necessarily need a reminder of that date.

Hope this post gave you some ideas on how to get rid of a bad memory.

Take care,

Miko xx

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  1. The approach you have taken to improve your life is inspiring.
    This topic in particular is interesting to me, a skill I think I had when I was younger but somehow forgot after high school.
    I’ll try it out (maybe minus learning yoga, haha)
    The remainder of this blog might as well be on my reading list. Really enjoying reading it , even if I don’t agree with everything.

    1. Miko says:

      Thank you – I always try my best to think about what would be the most adaptive way that I can move forward and live a positive life. Studying yoga philosophy has been most instrumental in my recovery, as well as my family.

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