To forget something, first choose something else to think about instead. Next, identify the triggers for that memory, then use self-hypnosis to systematically change those triggers so that they cause you to think the new thoughts instead. Repeat until the old memories are quenched.
Memory is a tricky thing for most of us.
There are certain parts of our lives that we’d quite like to remember. Things like the times when everything went well, and our happy memories.
Additionally, there are certain other things it’s useful for us to remember. I’m talking about material for exams, skills we need to do our job, and so on.
Very few would deny that either of these are important and useful.
At the same time, most of us also have memories that we’d rather forget.
It turns out that memory is incredibly fickle, and that what we remember as having happened is actually an illusion caused by the way our brains work.
Our memories are an approximation of our experience of the events of our lives.
And this gives us an amazing bonus: Since memory is malleable, it’s possible to learn a simple process that can be used to effectively delete any memory from our minds.
Now I’m not going to claim this is always easy.
Memories with a strong negative emotion attached to them tend to hook themselves deeply into our minds.
In practical terms, this means that when we want to forget a negative memory, we need to include a step to release the strong emotions first.
How To Forget Something Step-By-Step
Here are the steps to take yourself through in order to forget something with self-hypnosis.
1. Let Go Of Any Strong Emotion Around The Memory We Want To Forget
Our brains are essentially devices that are heavily optimized towards ensuring our survival. A key part of this process is that when something negative happens, our brain will handily keep thinking about it over and over again.
It can be like being stuck in a loop.
There are many ways to let go of this. One simple but effective way is to take the time to consciously work out the main things we learnt from the experience.
This creates a positive anchor that overrides the previous negativity.
2. Choose Something Else To Remember
Way back in ancient times, Aristotle came up with fairly fundamental postulate: Nature abhors a vacuum.
In physics, this is used in a practical way to describe that, for example, spacetime is never a true vacuum, but is instead full of sparsely distributed particles and fluctuating fields.
The same thing is true inside the human mind.
Our thoughts in any given moment are driven by the things we’re currently experiencing. Depending on the circumstances, this could be the physical things around us, or it could be our own thoughts that we just had.
It’s almost always a combination of both.
Now, when most people want to forget something, it never occurs to them that something else has to fill the void.
This means that an important step in forgetting is choosing something else to remember instead.
As a rule, the more important something is to us, the more deeply it becomes embedded in our minds.
Which means that while you can choose anything at all to remember in place of the thing you want to forget, it will aid you immensely if you choose something with a strong, positive emotion attached to it.
3. Go Into Self-Hypnosis
Naturally, we can’t very well use self-hypnosis to forget something if we don’t go into self-hypnosis.
You can use any self-hypnosis technique you like for this step.
4. Notice What Triggers The Memory
From a place of self-hypnosis, wind back in your memory until you find a point where you were thinking about the thing you’d like to forget.
Notice what happened immediately before that.
Figure out the structure of the memory.
Most memories have only a handful of entry points where we start thinking about them spontaneously.
For this process, it is best to focus on just one entry point at a time.
It’s also possible to use a generative change process which will automatically seek out all such entry points.
If you’re starting out, go with the tried-and-true process of systematically working through them, one by one.
In hypnosis, we refer to these as hypnotic triggers, and they are a form of anchor.
5. Use Self-Hypnosis To Change The Memory Trigger
From a place of self-hypnosis, see yourself experiencing the trigger you found in the previous step.
Then consciously switch to the new memory.
Train yourself to forget the old memory by consciously thinking something else when you experience its trigger. Ramp up the positive emotions and repeat a few times to deeply set the new memory.
6. Associate A Strong Positive Emotion With The New Memory
Our brains remember things much more effectively when there are strong emotions associated with them.
You can help yourself along considerably by intentionally experiencing a strong positive emotion when you experience the trigger and switch to the new memory.
Go deep inside the new memory so that your brain knows it is important.
Beyond strong emotions, our brains tend to remember stuff that they experience often.
This means that if we truly want to forget something, it’s important to practice experiencing each trigger for that memory, and then thinking something else multiple times.
As a rule, the stronger the emotion you can create around the new memory, the fewer times you will have to repeat.
8. Repeat The Process For Every Trigger You Can Find
Most memories have several triggers.
In order to forget a memory, we need to redirect each trigger to something else.
So work through this process for each trigger you can find.
And if you find yourself still thinking that old memory you wanted to forget, notice the trigger point and repeat the process.
Next Steps To Forget Other Things
The process in this article can be followed to help us to forget essentially any memory.
However, there are some caveats.
There is a huge difference between forgetting something that makes little difference to us, and forgetting something we regret, something we’re ashamed of, or even something traumatic.
As a rule, the stronger the negative emotions are around anything, the more cautiously we must approach that thing.
If all you want to do is forget something you saw, the process in this article will usually be enough. I’ve used it personally to forget entire shows that I’ve enjoyed so that I can enjoy them again!
And when we want to forget things with very strong negative emotions associated with them, more is needed. If you’d like to forget about something that bothers you, read my article on how to overcome rumination and use that in combination with the process in this article.