How should I deal with an uncomfortable"flash to the past?"
November 6, 2007 12:14 AM   Subscribe

Any suggestions for snapping out of a rather too-absorbing trip down memory lane?

I recently decided to polish up a very long essay I wrote many years ago but the experience became eerie. I spent months writing that essay and the couple of hours I spent re-reading it just now has brought back memories from that period in all its glorious and sordid detail.

Vividly remembering the atmosphere/my own feelings/emotions from that period is really creepy. I feel transported into a time, that, though it was fun, was also quite intense and emotional.

Remembering/perhaps reliving my state of mind from back then is distracting me from being in the current moment and doing what I would otherwise do. Any suggestions from snapping out of a rather too-absorbing trip down memory lane?
posted by gregb1007 to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Go to sleep. Take a long walk. Get absorbed in a book.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:28 AM on November 6, 2007

Think about the reasons why you're not like that anymore.
posted by rhizome at 12:40 AM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Turn the TV or radio to a news channel, with the volume UP, and get your mind to focus on current events for a couple of hours. That usually works to snap me out of moments when I'm too immersed in misty water-color memmmmmories.
posted by amyms at 12:44 AM on November 6, 2007

Maybe check in with a friend or family member, ideally in person, and find out his or her latest news. Past you is on center stage and present you is the audience; it might bring you back to now to give that audience-like attention to someone in your present life.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:14 AM on November 6, 2007

Celebrate the fact that you're able to do that and as ottereroticist says, immerse yourself in another book or project.
posted by ceri richard at 3:29 AM on November 6, 2007

Don't think about it anymore. If you catch yourself thinking about it, do something else. Occupy your mind with other things. That may sound flippant, but it's true.
posted by zardoz at 3:56 AM on November 6, 2007

When I'm having a really vivid flashback, it helps me snap out of things by describing my surroundings, either to myself or to a friend. By the time you're talking about the color of the buttons on the remote, the flashback should be receding.
posted by tigerjade at 4:38 AM on November 6, 2007

Drink a bottle of wine, get really emotional, get it out of your system, forget it happened the next day.

Or just take a walk...
posted by roygbv at 5:16 AM on November 6, 2007

I did this recently, isn't the brain an amazing thing? In my case, I went back to a house that I hadn't really been to since me and my ex had lived there and it was a weird time capsule of what my life had been like before I'd met him and while I was with him and it was just like ZAP, wow.

And you know, I just brooded over it for a while and then said, you know, I like where I am now quite a bit, so that was (may have been) a necessary path to go through to get here. In short, I put it away again. If the problem is that it's bringing up undealt-with-emotions then you need to deal with them however you usually cope "gee I wish my life had turned out differently" or "wow I wonder what happened to that person I used to care deeply about?" or "I'm really not where I thought I was going to be right now"

I sort of break it down into desires. What is your heart/mind desiring that causes these reliving episodes to be so vivid and distracting? What do you WANT that is causing this change of focus? Is it something you can't have? Can you channel that energy into moving in that direction? Do you just need a good cry/fuck/walk to get it out of your system? Is there someone you need to call? Sometimes overthinking through these things makes them go away. Other times you need some sort of suitably placed distraction until time works out the emotions you may not be able to process.
posted by jessamyn at 7:16 AM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

This happened to me a couple years back and ended up spurring me into trying to read all the novels of Philip K. Dick. I needed a project to take my mind off my past and boy howdy did I get it.
posted by crinklebat at 8:05 AM on November 6, 2007

When all else fails, Jack Daniels is still your friend.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:03 AM on November 6, 2007

I've heard that sometimes when people experience something unpleasant or even traumatizing, one tactic is to desensitize yourself to it by reliving it repeatedly, obsessing over the details, feeling the emotions, etc. until it no longer has any interest or power for you. If the other ideas don't work, maybe this is a good way.

It's like watching an intense movie. After the third time, it gets kinda boring and expected. You move on to something else naturally.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:25 AM on November 6, 2007

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