Are Your Memories Depressing You?

One of the ways stress, depression and anxiety affects sufferers is in the way they recall events from their lives. I call this “Selective Thinking” and in this article, you’ll discover how selective thinking fuels stress, depression and anxiety.

There are many days that we have lived in our lives that we simply don’t remember. Days where we went to school, went on holiday, went for a day out, went for interviews, went to work, days spent relaxing at home or just days spent performing the usual routines and chores that make up daily living.

Throughout your life, there have been lots of days where you had a good time, where you were happy and enjoying life. A celebration dinner, a weekend away, special family occasions, watching a great film, and playing games or sports.

There’s the hundreds of days you spent at school. Dozens of days spent on vacation. Numerous family celebrations and of course, hundreds of days spent at work. We remember some good times but an awful lot of them gradually lose the detail as we age. We know we were happy, but we can’t recall the precise details.

But life isn’t all about routine days and happy occasions. For all of us, life has its less happier times where we have to face some pretty trying events: Confrontation with others, loss of a job, death of a loved one, relationship breakdowns and scores of times where we made a mistake and screwed up. Sometimes, our mistakes are minor and cause us irritation, inconvenience and embarrassment. Other times, we screw up big time and the consequences have a major, life-changing effect.

I write from painful experience here and I know I’m not the only one who made a big mistake which altered the course of my life and caused me enormous pain and contributed to my descent into anxiety and depression.

One of the reasons I entered into anxiety and depression lay in the selective ways I thought about my life. I have had a fantastic life: I worked for 10 fabulous and rewarding years in the entertainment business. I had a brilliant IT career and I enjoyed immensely my childhood and my family life.

Can I remember all of the happy times I spent throughout my life? No. I remember a few in detail but the rest have faded away. How about you? Can you remember all of the happy times you’ve enjoyed throughout your life?

Here’s the point: I can remember in detail all of the bad times I’ve endured. My relationship breakdown, deaths of my family, all of the times I made mistakes –even ones from 20 years ago – I can recall all of them in detail with ease.

This kind of selective thinking is performed by most sufferers of stress, anxiety and depression. It is selective because more weight and focus is given to the bad times in life than to the good times. Continually going over and over all of your mistakes, all of the bad times, all of the times when you felt an injustice had been done and when others let you down badly or you let others down. All are repeatedly played over and over again in your mind.

If that wasn’t enough, sufferers also start to replay these times with various “If only” alternative scenarios which do nothing other than compound the misery and keep the pain ongoing by locking the sufferer into stress, depression and anxiety.

To stop this kind of selective thinking, accept that what’s done is done. It can’t be changed no matter what. So accept it and then learn from it, then forget it. Start remembering all of the times when you were happy and when you were enjoying life. They are of much more importance than the bad times.

You’re human and this means you will make mistakes and experience some fairly trying events that cause you pain and suffering. But you’ll also experience many happy times too. It’s all part of human life. Always keep this in mind when the urge to selectively recall the bad times strikes.