How to Use the Photo Center in Your Mind to Free Yourself of Negative Memories By: Patrick K. Porter, PhD
A few years ago, my wife, Cynthia, lost her beloved sister, Christa, to lung cancer. Christa had battled the disease for over two years and Cynthia was at her side throughout the ordeal. During that time, Cynthia discovered a dark side to memories that she’d never experienced before; a side that’s ugly and painful and, to her, felt nearly impossible to forget. Cynthia described the experience like this:
“After Christa died, my brain seemed to idle on the most awful moments of her battle. Images raged through my mind—Christa coughing uncontrollably, vomiting, or dropping to the floor like a rag doll, lumps of brown hair left on her pillow, bruised veins, a bulging tumor on her neck, her precious arm purple and bloated from a botched transfusion. I could no more stop these memories than I could stop a raging hurricane.”
Cynthia needed to work through her grief in her own way, so I did my best to be supportive and let her be. One day, after a particularly intense bout of tears, she came to me and took my hand. “This isn’t working for me,” she said. “I want to remember Christa’s beautiful face, her gentle nature, and the fun we had together, not the horrible months that took her away from me.”
“You can do that,” I said. “All it takes is for you to take control of the memories and store them the way you want instead of letting negative images run rampant in your mind.”
“I’m ready for that!” she replied.
I took Cynthia through the process I use in many of my visualizations to help people free their minds of the past memories that hold them back. I helped her store the awful negative images of her sister’s illness behind her, in black and white, with no sound or emotion. I then had her focus on the good times she’d had with her sister and remember them in color, with all the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes present. I had her place these good emotions into her future. Here is how Cynthia described it:
“Once all the dark memories were behind me, I could open the floodgates to the happy memories of my life with Christa. Taking our sons trick-or-treating and then tucking them into Ninja Turtle sleeping bags. Hiking in the desert, chatting about nothing. Holding newborn kittens and laughing at the silly names we’d given them. Giggling ‘til our sides ached. Sitting side by side in the backyard watching an Arizona sunset. A warmth and peacefulness filled me for the first time in months.”
How did Cynthia make such a dramatic transformation so quickly? By using the photo center of her mind, which works because our brains are hardwired with the ability to store everything we experience, but the filters through which we do it is up to us. Someone who is happy-go-lucky, for example, stores positive memories in color. They remember them with sound. They can even get into those experiences and relive them. This is called association.
This same happy-go-lucky person tends to store negative memories as vague and fuzzy. Like an old movie, they are outdated and black and white. They might even be still pictures. You have probably said to yourself, “That experience is behind me now.” This is a form of disassociation.
The reverse of the happy-go-lucky person is someone who has had a very traumatic experience and chooses to hold tightly to that memory. These people tend to continually replay the scene in their minds and store the negative events in color and with sound, which is what Cynthia was doing in the weeks following her sister’s death, and the result was sadness, depression, anxiety, and a feeling that she had lost the good memories of her sister.
To use the photo center in your mind, I’m going to ask you to think of a negative memory that you’d like to put behind you, then follow these steps:
Step 1: Place the image in a picture frame. Role play by reaching out with your hands as if you are holding an imaginary picture frame, but make sure the image black and white and there’s no sound. Push it straight out and away from you. Imagine an invisible force behind you pulling on the image, as if it’s tied to powerful rubber bands. Continue holding on, but know that this force is fueled by your burning desire to put the memory behind you.
Step 2: Feel the tension building. Once the pressure builds to a point you can’t hold it back, let your hands go and move them quickly past the side of your head. Some people find it helpful to make a “whoosh” sound at the same time they move their hands behind their head.
Step 3: Let the image go. Pretend that the image is moving so quickly and easily past you that the pictures, images, sounds, and feelings about the event travel so far behind you that they are gone from your awareness.
Step 4: Notice a quiet calm. Soak up this peaceful feeling and dwell on the result.
Step 5: Project these positive feelings into the future. Imagine how your life has changed in the future because you chose to put that negative memory behind you.
I find the photo center in the mind technique so powerful, I use it in some form on dozens of my BrainTap visualization sessions, and especially in the PTSD series’ and 8 Steps to Coping with Grief.
Because life happens, and stressful, negative events will always occur, it’s important to maintenance your memories, and this is where BrainTap excels. As you relax and listen to the guided visualizations, you can be gently guided through these 5 steps, along with other powerful techniques, without having to actively participate consciously. BrainTapping is basically memory management done for you.
If you’d like to give it a try, CLICK HERE, to start a 15-Day Trial. I want to personally welcome you to the transformational joy of BrainTapping!