Reducing the power of negative recall

Before we begin this week’s post I want to give a preview on the blogs I will be writing about living in the “now”. As I sat down to write this blog I was distracted by something out the window. When I looked I saw a fox visiting my bird table area.

I stopped what I was doing and spent the next forty minutes watching and photographing this beautiful creature. When wonderful things appear in your life make sure you stop and enjoy them!Fox 282

As we continue this series in the Positive Psychology realm I want to pause for a moment to talk about how to handle intruding memories from the past. This may sound paradoxical when talking about positive psychology however sometime we have to re-set our mind in order to move forward.

Most people are familiar with the concept of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and you may even know that this can involve “flashbacks” and bad dreams. What many people are less aware of is the idea of Post Traumatic Growth.

When people experience PTG instead of the disabling impact of PTSD they find a way to make meaning from their experience. This appears to help them move on and become stronger as a result of their experience.

NB: If you suspect you are experience PTSD please seek some professional support.

For people who are stuck negative memories with or without trauma the route to moving forward is the same. They need to find a way to make meaning from their past so they can move on.

In NLP we often work with the pre-supposition that a person hangs onto an old memory, behaviour or feeling for a reason. For example, if someone has been hurt in a certain situation they may hold onto that memory and keep re-visiting it in order to avoid experiencing the same hurt in the future.

NLP has a number of specific processes that can allow the individual to process this past event in a way that allows them to make meaning, preserve the learning and reduce the emotional content. The result will be to move the prominence of the memory so that it become faded and less clear while retaining the knowledge of the event.

Recent research has suggested another way to do this that you can do for yourself. It has been observed that when people write things down about a past negative event it can help them dissociate from the feelings.

Using this research and combining with NLP concepts here is an exercise you could use if you need it.

  1. Write down the event as a story with themselves in the leading role but written as if observed from afar.
  2. Write down what the “star” of the story learnt from the experience including important learnings about protecting themselves and staying safe. Perhaps about decision making or reaching out for help.
  3. If there are other people involved in the story write letters to each of them expressing any important emotions or opinions. Now burn the letters! This is important it is part of the letting go.
  4. Re-write the story with a different, more positive ending where either the “star” did something different or an appropriate co-star entered the scene to “save them”.
  5. Now go and do something just for fun that you really enjoy preferably with people you care about.Robin in the rain

If you decide to use this technique yourself or with others do let me know how you get on.

For anyone wanting to know how to get help from an NLP Practitioner contact me direct or if you are in the UK go to where you can find people via the directory.

Next week I will write more about increasing positive recall.

About Melody @ GWizlearning

Melody spent fourteen years gathering experience of the business world working in banking, telecommunications and the public sector before co-founding The GWiz Learning Partnership in 1993. Melody has a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology, a degree in Psychology and a diploma in Psychotherapy. She is an NLP Master Trainer which allows her to run NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner and NLP Trainer Training courses certified by the Positive School of Intrinsic Neuro-Linguistc Psychology. She is also a qualified Myers Briggs practitioner and EI practitioner and added to all this is five years Transactional Analysis training, meaning she is able to help organisations access the hidden potential in their staff. She is also in demand for her work in transforming average or even troubled teams into high performers. Melody is a visiting lecturer at University of East London, teaching "Wellbeing and Positive Psychology" to undergraduates. Additionally, she is a member of the CIPD and is ILM accredited. Melody's interests are many and varied. She has a keen interest in personal development, canine and wolf psychology, conservation, movies and running. She also enjoys western horse riding, walking the GWiz dogs, nature watching and stage combat (particularly sword fighting).
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2 Responses to Reducing the power of negative recall

  1. Chris Menlove-Platt says:

    Hi Melody

    I love your blogs and this was particularly useful in that it has given me another bit of information that, with your permission, I can drop into my Master Practitioner programme. It is the story writing technique towards the bottom of the page.

    Many thanks

    Chris Chris Menlove-Platt

    E: T: 01752 706449 M: 07890 306896 W:

    > This e-mail is intended for the addressee only and may contain information that is privileged and confidential. If you are not the intended recipient, you must not copy, distribute or take any action in reliance on it. If this e-mail has been sent to you in error, please notify us immediately by telephone.

    • Hi Chris

      It’s lovely to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words, they are much appreciated.

      I’m always happy to share ideas I just ask that you reference me :0)

      Warm anchors


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