Anxiety Management Toolkit


Evicting Unwanted Memories

Anxiety is one of those conditions that is easy to misunderstand and unmistakable to recognize once you get a grasp on its wily ways.


Adventures with Anxiety 

Most of my life, I struggled with intangible, unpredictable, and uncontrollable feelings of awkwardness, discomfort, and outright terror. I never realized what it was, until I read an article in a women's magazine while awaiting an appointment with my psychiatrist. 

Ironic that I was seeking treatment for lifelong depression and somehow I figured out for myself that anxiety (a word I was familiar with but not what it actually meant) consisted of symptoms and behaviors that I had been describing to my very kind, capable and well-meaning psychiatrist. These descriptions were overlooked-until I was able to attach a technical term to my previously confusing experiences.

I have learned over the many decades of my Joyous Journey that for me, figuring out and understanding my own health challenges often falls to random emails, articles, and friendly conversations. Once I make a connection with my own situation, I become more able to identify the pattern in those who come to me for support and assistance.

I wish to state very clearly: I am not medically trained. I am not able to offer a diagnosis or to prescribe any methods for relief. I do not offer 'healing'.

I am, however, a very curious person who has spent decades doing what I can to resolve a number of debilitating conditions and health challenges that my medical care team has for some reason been unable to identify, diagnose, or treat.

As a result of my situation, I have relied upon that innate curiosity, plus exploration, research, and experimentation, along with extensive training in nonmedical, energy-based wellness enhancing modalities to discover non-medical pathways to relieve and release myself from sometimes immense suffering and discomfort.

Anxiety, for me, is an ongoing chronic emanation of fear, hurt, and a sense of lack of control. It either buzzes through my nervous system in a consistent low crackling static, or it jumps up, fully activated in reaction to unexpected events. It has often taken over my ability to function 'normally,' whatever that is.

Like most 'systems', keeping stress as low as possible and using regular 'maintenance' activities can keep the impact of anxiety manageable. Ignoring it can lead to prolonged periods of inaction and the stress that follows from feeling so stuck in the muck.

One of the most challenging aspects of my anxiety experience is how it creeps in so quietly, and then very suddenly, shuts down my entire nervous system. If it gets to be too much, I am prone to sitting still and doing very little. It's like I am frozen. And while I don't believe in 'productivity' as a reason for being alive, I do feel that I have a lot to offer, and staying stuck is just frustrating and untenable.

Over the years, I studied a number of energy management techniques such as Thought Field Therapy (TFT), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT). 

I have investigated adapted versions of Jin Shen Jiutsu, and a variety of other hands-on and distance energy-shift modalities as well. 

I have used these tools and techniques to excellent effect, but for some reason, I was unable to get a solid handle on clearing the frozen effect of anxiety. I felt trapped in my own body and mind.

The distressing, repetitive looping thoughts just would not stop.

Eventually, I was introduced to a few tools in the Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) realm. NLP is a powerful companion toolkit to Hypnotherapy.

The Rewind Technique: RESET Your Memory Banks. 

I revised and supplemented a basic NLP technique to help me evict unwanted memory tenants in my brain. I deeply desired to get rid of annoying looping thoughts for good.

Once I developed this process, I found it was a really fun and easy way to get the looping to actually, for real, simply stop!

My Experience with the Rewind Technique

A series of 24/7/365 intense, visceral, highly distracting memories of my ex-partner played havoc in my head for years after we parted (amicably, but not happily).

I was desperate to evict the unwanted recollections. I was not benefitting from allowing the memories to continue haunting me. It served no purpose. It hurt to keep recalling things that would forever remain in the past.

After hearing about a similar tool from the NLP modality toolbox, I adapted the Rewind Technique to my own preferences. I guess it won't be a surprise that my Bachelor degree is in Radio/TV Production. I tend to make use of everything in my training and experience. 

I have incorporated the Rewind Technique into the emotional support work I do, as needed. Implementing this tool has assisted my clients to clear unhappy memories, altering their relationship to the past, and even eliminating fear of future relationships or circumstances.

It has been, for me, an amazing and very gentle emotional support tool with broad application. I am pleased to share it with you.

When I actually decided to use it on myself, I was thrilled to find some emotional space opening up after years of inner struggle. 

My reluctance to give up on replaying the memories was mostly due to not wanting to surrender the memories of the defunct relationship. That was all I had left... However, I knew I was stealing energy from my own evolution and wellbeing, and it was seriously way past time to let them go.  I was eager to release the more traumatic memories that had taken up an unwanted occupancy-especially after I was successful in clearing these unwanted bothersome thoughts.  Timing is Everything When I decided to take action, the technique worked for me after three or four attempts at disrupting the unwanted memories.  Considering how long the memories had been haunting me (approximately four years), I was amazed how quickly the looping thoughts made themselves scarce. A few years later, if I find myself thinking longingly about that ex-partner, I unleash the technique (bring on the Bunny Horde!) and it pretty much instantly shuts those escaped unwanted memory tenants right down.  I now go months at a time without thinking about that person. When I do think about that part of my past, my thoughts are usually quite peaceful.

We are now in comfortable enough situation that we can chat and not get caught up in the intensity that kept us in an untenable and uncomfortable connection after things ended amicably and mutually. It has been real blessing for us both.  My relationship with this partner taught me SO MUCH-but my heart needed to be free so I could move along on my own Joyous Journey. For that reason, if no other, I am deeply grateful for my experience implementing the Rewind Technique.

Why Not You, Too?

How can you successfully delete/erase/evict unwanted memories that may be haunting you? (I am imagining you wouldn't have read this far if you weren't interested in finding out how to do this yourself.)

You can use this tool to 'rewrite' or 're-record' any type of repetitive memory that triggers anxiety or looping to a different part of your brain. This decreases the habit of 'reruns' in your overwhelmed brain, assigning the job to a different department, so you can get some rest and relief.

The goal is to reduce or eliminate the instant/ongoing/repetitive reaction when you are feeling stuck with the bad stuff in your brain.

You MIGHT have the memory resurface occasionally, but it appears to lessen in intensity over time. Do your best to be persistent and consistent in learning this skill. Keep chipping away at the intrusive thoughts/memory flashbacks until they no longer bother or upset you.

You Can Learn How:

In the Rewind Technique Protocol, you get to become your own film editor (if you are visually inclined) or sound editor.  If you are more of an auditory experiencer, no worries. I will describe the auditory process after introducing the visual process.

VISUAL:

Select A Target Memory

This would be any distressing memory that won't stop bugging you. I recommend you start learning this process by selecting a low to medium intensity bothersome memory. When you feel more confident using the tool, move on to higher intensity looping memories.

Measure The Intensity

Measure the level of distress you feel about a triggering/looping memory on a 1-10 basis.

1 = no feeling/reaction/connection. No big deal. This is the goal.

10 = House Fire burning in your veins. Very bad. This is NOT OPTIMAL. Make a mental note of the number. You will do a second check-in after you have implemented the Rewind Technique.

The Rewind Technique Protocol:

1. Select a 3-15 second snippet of the repeating/upsetting memory you have decided to evict. It doesn't have to be the entire scenario-just to grab a little bit of it.

2. Since you are the director and film editor, manipulate the film strip or videotape as you wish. Turn the snippet into either b&w or color-the opposite of how it initially appeared to you visually.

3. Load the snippet into a film projector or tape player to project onto your inner screen.

4. Play it upside down. Then replay it forward and backwards.

5. Speed it up or slow it down. Think Charlie Chaplin... or a slow-motion sequence.

6. This is my favorite part. After you have done the initial 'editing', pick the silliest cartoon-based invasion you can imagine and insert it or them into the original scenario.

Examples:

* 157 kangaroos on pogo sticks * 1,628 purple-polka-dotted bunnies driving flame-red Lamborghinis-on stilts! * 269 hot air balloons carrying yucky, dripping Swamp Monsters to the sun...

Whatever you can imagine. Anything random and ridiculous and unlikely. It should make you laugh. Feel free to run wild. Your imagination loves to play!

7. Hit the Rewind button on your media device. Replay the cartoon invasion several times. You are in charge and there are no limits. HAVE FUN!

8. Now, you get to rest. Dismount from the merry-go-round fun zone. Sit still. Take 3 deep breaths.  Focus. Listen. Witness.  How do you feel?

9. OPTIONAL: Maybe pull out a notebook and write down insights, surfacing memories, or any other awareness that comes up for you.

10. After reflection, revisit the intensity level. From a scale of 1 to 10, how strong is your reaction to the original scenario?

If it has gone down a few points, but has not dropped to 3 or below, do the Rewind Technique Protocol again.  I recommend doing it twice the first time you try it out if you don't get a strong reduction right away.

Then continue experimenting with this tool. Keep trying-there is no limit to your imagination-until you discover what works for you.

Simple Techniques for a Confidence-Building Boost Evicting those nasty anxiety-based looping thoughts isn't difficult. But there can be challenges: Resistance to doing it. Unfamiliar feelings rising to the surface. 

1. Do your best to remember to do the Rewind Technique whenever you notice looping thoughts recurring.

2. You cannot do this 'wrong'. Use your imagination in every way. This type of experiment will free up tremendous psychic and mental energy once you get the hang of it.

3. Have FUN: the ultimate goal is to make yourself giggle instead of cringe.  For the more auditorily-inclined, I have devised a method to honor that learning pathway. 

AUDITORY:

1. Recall a short snippet of the conversation or event that has been bothering you.

2. Imagine that the snippet has been captured on a reel-to-reel or audio cassette tape. Pop it into one of the old players you used to have (come on-you had a cassette player, didn't you?). Pretend you did if you are so young you only had digital media to play with.

3. Press the fast forward and the reverse buttons on your imaginary tape player or cassette deck. Hear the silly sounds it makes.

4. Introduce a silly sound effect into the audio of your looping memory: a polka band, a bunch of clarinets, or maybe a circus procession of noise makers or kazoos. Anything ridiculous sounding, to disrupt your repetitious recollection of the event.

5. Replay the auditory invasion several times. You are in charge and there are no limits. HAVE FUN!

6. Now, get off the merry-go-round fun zone, and take 3 deep breaths. Focus. Listen. Witness. How do you feel?

7. OPTIONAL: Maybe pull out a notebook and write down insights, surfacing memories, or other awareness that comes up for you.

8. After reflection, recheck on your distress level. From a scale of 1 to 10, how intense is your reaction to the original scenario?

If it has gone down one or two points, do the Rewind Technique Protocol again. I recommend doing it twice the first time you try it out if you don't get a strong reduction.

Keep trying, experimenting until you find what works for you.

****************

That's all there is to implementing this tool. Some folks are not very confident in the beginning because they are not experienced in trying out this type of energy tool. Some have not connected strongly with their intuitive audio or visual skills. It's ok. Just give it a try!

Once I learned the basis for the Rewind Technique, my hardest challenge was REMEMBERING TO DO IT. Silly but true.

Looping thoughts are kind of addictive, and we get so used to the suffering we endure, we actually forget we can do something to put a stop to it. Even when we learn HOW to help ourselves.

By integrating the Rewind Technique Protocol into a regular self-care regimen, you can take a step towards maintaining control over your Memory Tenants.  By moving the specific repeating memory snippet from the part of your brain where the looping thoughts have essentially dug a deep groove and gotten (temporarily) trapped, to a different part of your capacious, miraculously plastic brain-based memory vault, it frees up overused space, and you can begin to move along to more enjoyable mental activities.  This is a helpful technique for people who suffer from Complex PTSD and severe anxiety. I love using it because it is quick, easy and fun.

I have facilitated deeper sessions using the Rewind Technique with great success.

If you try the Rewind Technique on your own and it helps you at all, please send me an email to let me know.

If you would appreciate support in using this tool, or are seeking further assistance in dealing with any type of emotional stuckness challenges, I am here to assist you.

NOTA BENE: This technique can sometimes bring up confusing emotional energy because (I have found) the looping is actually a very useful PROTECTION strategy. It's kind of like pouring cement over a sinkhole.

We are complex organisms with lots going on under the surface. I believe this is a safe tool to share, and of course, I would be happy to support you if any unexpected issues arise.

Ashara Love


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