Jean-Louis Monestès

Making Peace With Your Past Publication date : February 7, 2013

Regret, trauma, nostalgia, bereavement: the past constantly intrudes upon the present. Sometimes we wish we could break free of the stifling memories that are constantly being stored in our minds. This is hardly surprising considering that our most vivid memories are often linked to frightening or sad events.

Why is it so difficult to forget what made us suffer? How can we lead happy lives in spite of such painful memories?

Although forgetting intentionally is impossible, we stubbornly try to divest ourselves of bad memories — and in doing so we simply reinforce them.

This book shows us how to escape the snares of painful memories, by letting go instead of trying to control, modify and erase them, and it teaches us to allow those memories, and the emotions that accompany them, to surface with serenity.

Our memories need not weigh upon us and make us suffer, and we can learn to live in peace with them and with our past.

Most works on memory aim to improve its performance, because it is loss of memory that is so frightening. Yet the cause of suffering is often remembrance rather than forgetfulness: our memories work only too well and do not let us forget.

The practical tools provided here are based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), an approach currently being developed in psychology.

One of the tools of resilience: being at peace with memory in order to live with the past.

Jean-Louis Monestes, a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, is a member of the laboratory of functional neurosciences and pathologies of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).