Bad and traumatic memories can cause us to suffer long after the traumatic event that caused them, research has shown that bad memories often carry more weight than good ones do. Bad memories carry more emotional charge than good ones do, one theory for this is that when we experience a bad or traumatic event we need to remember it so we can avoid that same trauma in the future.
Traumatic events are often dangerous so by remembering the trauma we can be sure to avoid the danger, when the bad memory is recalled the emotional part of the brain is activated. The amygdala deals with emotions and can react to events much quicker than the thinking part of the brain. Bad memories can cause us to suffer anxiety and PTSD, they may cause us to be triggered by certain sounds, smells, even emotions can cause flashbacks.
When children grow up in dysfunctional families they internalise that dysfunction and think it means there is something wrong with them, this leads to toxic shame, a constant state of unease and emotional flashbacks. I discuss this further in many of the inner child posts on my blog.
Can Hypnosis Be Used To Remove Bad Memories?
Quick answer, no and even if I could use hypnosis to remove bad memories I wouldn’t consider it ethical. As I said above, bad memories help us avoid dangerous and painful situations in the future. Hypnosis can definitely be used to help with bad memories though.
How Can Hypnosis Help With Bad Memories?
There are many ways hypnosis can help us to overcome bad memories. I have a very popular video on my YouTube channel which uses the rewind technique to remove the negative emotion from bad memories. The theory is that by removing the negative emotional connection from traumatic memories they can be removed from the amygdala, processed by the hippocampus and stored as ordinary memories.
The technique works very well and means clients still have access to the bad memories so they can avoid similar situations in the future but they are no longer troubled by flashbacks and the anxiety such trauma causes. An MP3 download of this recording can be found on my website.
Hypnosis can also be used to desensitise the client to the event and even change the negative emotions associated with it. I don’t tend to do this but I do show NLP techniques to change the feelings associated with memories at the end of my inner child program.
After The Negative Emotion Has Been Removed
As I said above bad memories have a strong attachment to negative emotion, they cause anxiety and flashbacks in situations that remind the client of that trauma. Once the negative emotion has been removed from the bad memories I use hypnosis to help clients rehearse those situations feeling calm and relaxed. The mind cannot tell the difference between a real or imagined event so by visualising ourselves the way we want to be in those situations we actually create new neural pathways in the brain, the more we visualise ourselves acting and feeling this way the stronger the neural pathways become.
Using Hypnosis To Overcome Bad Memories From Childhood
Most people grow up with some form of dysfunction and bad memories from childhood, it could just be arguing, parents divorcing, being forced to achieve at school or in sports, even conditional love can be traumatising. On the inner child program we use group exercises and hypnosis to reconnect with the inner child so participants can give themselves the unconditional love and acceptance they never received as children.
Inner child work can help to reduce anxiety, increase self esteem, confidence, release toxic shame and help us build functional relationships. Hypnosis to help with bad memories can stop phobias, reduce anxiety, PTSD, flashbacks and emotional regulation.