When bad things happen can we ever truly forget about them?


“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”

– Steve Maraboli

On the latest episode of The Hero’s Journey: A Mindful Accord Podcast, my guest, was Dr. Dorena Rode.  Creator of the Change Anything Now program.  Dr. Rode’s program not only teaches you how to get past barriers planted in your subconscious but to completely erase them.  It was a great interview, and I learned a lot of useful tips.  Although after our discussion, I wondered if it is indeed possible to completely erase memories or are we just reframing them and seeing it in a different light.  I wonder this because from time to time we all have some painful memories that make unplanned reappearances in our conscious mind that can be quite unsettling.  Now, Dr. Rode’s system appears to work.  She was exposed to and suffered severe abuse as a child, and yet she has gotten past it.   During the interview, she was joking about some of her experiences and stated that she doesn’t need to forgive her parents for what they did because forgiveness requires judgment and she is not in a position to judge them.  They both experienced abuse as children, and they never did anything to address it, so they can't be blamed for engaging in the same behavior.  She apparently has overcome her child abuse issues, but did she eliminate these mental blocks or just reframe them.  Can we completely erase bad memories or trauma from our unconscious brain?  The part of our mind where most of our life is lived.

What does science say?

Sigmund Freud proposed around one hundred years ago that one can block unwanted memories in the subconscious.  The interesting thing about Freud is that although he influenced much of the study of psychology, he did not use the scientific method when he created psychoanalysis.  He mainly used observation.  A large part of that observation was self-observation.  He was also a cocaine addict to such a degree that it permanently damaged his nasal septum.  When I was getting my degree in psychology, I always looked upon Freud with a considerable amount of skepticism, and I still do. 

Where then can we then turn to validate Dr. Rode's system?  Surprisingly up until recently, there has been little research into blocking or forgetting bad memories.  However, in 2016 one such study was conducted at Dartmouth College.  What was discovered is that you can consciously eliminate memories from your brain.  Also, the researchers found that the best method to erase memories is the reverse of the most effective process to remember information.  Both of these methods utilize context.  You may have heard of the “method of loci” (loci being Latin for "places").  Which is the best method to remember a lot of information?  The best way to forget memories or information is to deconstruct the context of the memory.  Remove the context the memory disappears.  If this is something you would like to do I would refer you to Dr. Rode’s “CAN” technique.  She has been studying and working in that field for over twenty years.


What about tomorrow?


So we can eliminate bad memories and erase unconscious blocks but how do we stop new bad memories and blocks from occurring in the future?  Perhaps the best way going forward is to follow Don Miguel Ruiz’s advice and not take anything personally. Maybe this would not allow the context of an individual memory not to be framed in the “bad” category.  The real question is how does one not take anything personally.  It sure seems personal when it is said or done to us.  We will have to examine that together in the next blog.


Until Next Time,

Rich Decker – Mindful Accord