7 Ways to Succeed at Forgetting
Your inner critic helps you remember pain and disappointment.
Negative memories rain like rocks. Botched projects increase anxiety. Bungled relationships motivate isolation. Anxiety and isolation limit your life.
Research says you remember bad experiences with greater frequency, detail, and intensity than good.
Every manager I know wrestles with an annoying inner critic.
Forget about silencing your inner critic.
Everyone wants to strengthen memory, but sometimes it’s better to succeed at forgetting.
7 ways to succeed at forgetting:
Don’t give pain and disappointment permission to govern the present. When pain and disappointment rule, the future hides behind the horizon.
The past is an anchor when it’s the reason you don’t reach for the future.
You can’t erase memory. You always remember painful experiences, disappointments, and failures.
Forgetting is choosing to act without pain and disappointment in mind. Remembering is choosing to act WITH vision and opportunity in mind.
You don’t forget by trying to forget. You succeed at forgetting by acting with the future in mind.
Dwelling on a painful past turns you into a ‘don’t want’ person. You don’t want painful experiences coming back. If you want to succeed, be a ‘do want’ person.
Aspiration finds fulfillment in a forward-facing life.
7 ways to succeed at forgetting:
- Forget failure. Remember lessons.
- Forget disappointment. Remember what you saw in yourself.
- Forget pain. Remember people that enabled your growth.
- Forget the mess. Remember the reward.
- Forget things that weakened you. Remember that you’re stronger today.
- Forget jerk-holes that threw barriers. Remember people who provided opportunity. It’s self-destructive to live with detractors and haters in mind.
- Forget doubt. Remember things that strengthen belief. Remember times you overcame adversity instead of times you threw in the towel.
People are miserable because their body is in the present, but their mind grovels in the past.
What’s important to remember when you’re trying to forget?
What will you choose to remember today? (Remembering is acting with something in mind. It’s not simply recall.)
The inner critic is often fueled by negative emotions–anger, fear, resentment, envy, etc. You have to let go of your negative emotions to free yourself from the past. It starts with identifying the negative emotions, who caused them and then finding a way to forgive the person who hurt you. In some cases it’s finding a way to forgive yourself for engaging in bad behavior.
Assume positive intent. Maybe the person who hurt you was actually trying to help you. Or, maybe the person was reacting out of their own issues, insecurities and negative emotions.
I try to remember – Impermanence – when I’m trying to forget. At times the mind will ruminate and that may lend insight; live it, learn it, leave it!
These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.
Najwa Zebian, writer and activist
Thank you Dan, this is a good reminder.
The secret to making lead into gold is to not think about the word “hippopotamus” while melting the lead.
Really good stuff. Thanks.
Really good. Thanks.
Your post came along today with amazingly excellent timing (as so many do). I had been replaying in my mind for more than a week many of the bad bosses I have had along with the unfortunate circumstances that have come my way over the years. The litany was long: an early work experience after graduation where I heard a Thank You for something I did only once in 5 years, bosses who seemingly did everything they could to discourage me from completing my MBA and would not trust my judgement about the market in preparation for launching a new category of products there (leading to a dismal underperformance of the product launch); all the way to one who made blatant false claims about what I had done on my performance appraisal; let along quite a laundry list of significant family challenges over my lifetime. So these had been flowing around in my head over the last 10 days, even to the point that I was going through organizational structures with them! Wow!
My spouse and I talked the other evening about this and she had much the same advice as you, Dan (perhaps not as eloquent but still as poignant!).
Because, what I was trying to not let creep into my litany of thoughts focused on fear, sadness and anger, were the times of joy, grace and amazing outcomes that intermingled with all of the other organic matter that was hitting the oscillating device!
It mainly points out to me the ongoing realization that one doesn’t have faith in the things one sees, one has faith in the things one does not see with the eyes but can readily grasp between the thumb and fingers of the heart and the mind.