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Why getting over a breakup is not about erasing your ex's memories

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After a breakup, people fall into the fallacy of believing that it is necessary to erase our memories with our ex-partner in order to move forward. Worse yet, we believe that deleting memories is possible. However, it will most likely only take a few days or weeks for those memories to reappear. our minds: when passing by a jasmine plant, we could remember the aroma that that person's clothes had. person; a landscape on television could revive the memory of a shared trip; And, of course, the memories that our mobile phones throw at us from time to time could show us a photograph that we would prefer not to have seen. Memories of a person who is no longer in our life are painful, but we cannot eliminate them. In this article we will reflect on this topic.

Can we forget an ex-partner?

First of all, to delve into the topic of this article, we could start with the following question. We may not want to bring up memories of a person we want to get over into the present moment—especially those that tell with an important emotional charge—but, to what extent does the memory of the events we shared with our ex-partner depend on us?

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Human memory is not a mere file of information that is located in some hidden place in our mind.. Although it is true that the information we learn about reality is stored in an organized way, according to its content. semantic, memory has certain mechanisms to recover or lose information that, today, science finds fascinating.

The study of human cognition has agreed that, according to the information processing model, the cognitive system It has a working memory or operational memory, which is the memory we use to act on situations of the present moment. Suppose, this could be the resolution of a mathematics exercise. This memory has a limited capacity—that is, we cannot operate with too much information at the same time—and the duration of the information is short.

However, when we are performing a numerical operation, it is necessary that we have a series of concepts that we have learned. previously at some point in our lives, such as the concepts of “number”, “mathematical symbol”, “multiplication”, “equation”, “derivative”, etc. We do not have this information present while we carry out our daily activities, but rather it is stored in our long-term memory, of much greater capacity, and we bring it to working memory when we need it for a task specific. This process is called information recovery.

However: When a memory of an ex-partner accidentally comes to mind, it is because a stimulus from the environment has activated certain information in our long-term memory. (that is, he has recovered it). This process is automatic, fast and is a clear evolutionary advantage. Therefore, it is impossible to manipulate it at our will and determine which memories we want to bring into our working memory and which other memories we do not. Recognizing this can be difficult, since people fall again and again into the tendency to try to control our emotions, thoughts and our memories too, even though it is in vain.

Furthermore, as we will see below, when it comes to memories that involve an intense charge emotional, memory carries out distortions that could modify the way in which we observe said memories.

  • Related article: "The 8 psychological pillars to overcome a breakup"

The emotions after a breakup and their relationship with our memories

When our relationship with a person ends, it is expected that all kinds of reactions with a high emotional content will emerge, from anger to deep sadness. Experiencing these emotions is completely normal. During this process, it is necessary to allow yourself to experience that sentimental roller coaster without resistance. This includes Give yourself permission to remember those moments shared with the other person, the good and the bad, no matter how painful they may be..

Our emotions have a close relationship with our memories, and that is why it is so important to recover this factor in order to understand the topic of this article in greater depth. When we are vulnerable on an emotional level, people tend to retrieve information selectively. It is as if we were searching through the documents on our computer with a filter according to how we feel.

We could say that Emotions and memories swim in the same stream. If we feel sad after the breakup with our ex-partner, it is possible that we bring our memory events with the same emotional character. Another mechanism that our memory uses is to tend to color neutral memories with the color of our pain. This is due, at a neurobiological level, to the close relationship that exists between two brain structures: the hippocampus and the amygdala.

  • You may be interested: "Emotional psychology: main theories of emotion"

It is possible to move forward without stopping remembering your ex

What has been developed so far could allow us to reach the following conclusions. On the one hand, it is not entirely within our scope to decide what we remember and what we do not. On the other hand, since our memory acts with a certain independence from our will, it is Our memories may be biased by the emotions we are feeling at the moment. specific.

These facts could be understood as a disadvantage: we want to erase the memories of our ex-partner, but we cannot achieve it. However, it is possible to adopt a different perspective in this scenario: Do ​​we need to erase memories with that person to move forward? Do we really need to forget to get over someone? In truth, giving up control of our memories and radically accepting that some very painful memories will come to our mind is something simple to say but very difficult to do. However, pain is human, universal and temporary. The most likely thing is that, with the passage of time, those memories with our ex-partner will become present with a much less frequently, or, if they do, it is possible that they are not loaded with that emotional weight that hurts us so much today.

We know that time does not heal everything. There are stories that can cook within you even after months or years have passed. People can experience our stories from the past in the flesh with just an image, a thought or a smell. Of course, we could also extend this open and compassionate attitude towards ourselves: if the memory with a partner continues to hurt even after a long period of time has passed...does that mean we haven't gotten over our ex partner? From here, we consider that not necessarily.

Pigeon King Cardona

Pigeon King Cardona

Pigeon King Cardona

General Health Psychologist

Verified Professional
Online therapy

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We can continue with our lives even in the presence of that pain; taking him not as an enemy, but rather as a traveling companion. Perhaps, in truth, the fact that memories of our ex come without preamble is just one more trick of our memory.
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