I've recently read with interest an article "Bad Memories Can Be Erased in Potential Breakthrough for Treating Depression and PTSD" about how we can 'let go' past memories that are painful.
Basically, by manipulating word-associations
"researchers found that even though the entire autobiographical episode was not forgotten, the emotional details associated with the memory were. Consequentially, participants were able to remember the cause of the event, but were able to forget what happened and how it made them feel.
"The capacity to engage in this kind of intentional forgetting may be critical to our ability to maintain coherent images about who we are and what we are like," co-author Professor MacLeod said in a statement.
Uhm, no. The original painful memory is painful because of its context, in relationship to others. For example, we feel shame, guilt or embarrassment because of what we think others will think of or about us.
It's that fear of social disapproval that is the key. Conveniently forgetting about what others think about us will quickly come undone if said other people confirm their shock, horror or disgust about said past event.
So what's the solution to painful memories?
Ah, that's where "active-imagination" and an expanded world-view becomes beneficial, and highly effective.
In particular, the expanded world-view is to recognise that when people feel poorly about us, that speaks more about their limited, fearful beliefs than about ourselves. It speaks about their lack of maturity, compassion and understanding.
The guilt or whatever negative feelings we have about some past event is driven by the fear and reality of social disapproval. Social disapproval is 'death' to us humans, who are 'social animals'. In the past we were saved from that "death" by receiving "forgiveness" from some authority figure (in past times it was the local priest), which then gave us permission to "let go" and move on with life.
An expanded world-view simply expands the context, by seeing the bigger picture, so to speak. Some of which1 is that, for example, said past event can be seen in the light of experimentation, or as demonstration of the lack of ease, maturity and playfulness of society, etc.
An example: once upon a time, masturbation was held as being quite dirty and sinful. Good heavens, with that belief-set, many a man would have felt guilt or shame about themselves. Nowadays, it's seen as healthy, or at least somewhat natural. Result (of that change in social world-view): All that horrible guilt and shame has (largely) gone.
So if we tie together an expanded world-view with imagination (seeing that 'social disapproval' as being symptomatic of a 'dis-ease' in and by society), then we're able to step over/straddle that 'cesspool' of shame and guilt. We're able to see and feel we're part of a bigger, more-accepting and mature world dynamic.
- 1. more of which is that from a quantum physics point of view, every path (possibility), including all the bad stuff, must happen, somewhere, for this actuality to occur. The implications of quantum physics when understood, are shocking. At least for those who understand it — as Niels Bohr remarked, "Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it."