11/05/2013 02:44 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Remembering to Forget


Have you ever had something stuck in your brain that just won't go away? An image, a sentence, a sound, a moment, a day... something you don't want to have in there, but it won't go away?

Sometimes, it takes a while for things like this to vacate the precious space in our brains, crowding out thoughts that are more productive and positive, reviving feelings of discomfort, anger, fear or sadness over and over until, one day, almost as abruptly as it may have begun... it stops.

I get so frustrated by my own mind sometimes.

I will it to turn one way, and it swoops and swirls another. "Ha ha!" my brain says. "You can't control me."

Sadly, it's true far too often.

How much better off would I be if I had focused on moments while I was raising my kids, moments that seemed inconsequential at the time? A shoe being tied, a bowl of cereal being poured, a nonsensical question or a long-winded story about "Power Rangers" or The Little Mermaid, rather than going over in my mind something that might have seemed important but wasn't -- a slight by an acquaintance, a rude comment off-handedly made, a dinner no one enjoyed, a phone call not returned? How many more fleeting, forgotten moments would I have stored in my memory had I been right there, in that place -- driving the car, kids chattering in the backseat; reading a bedtime story; building a block tower or coloring in a coloring book -- instead of distracted by the thoughts of other things? I didn't really hear the chatter, see the words on the pages, marvel at the skills of a 3-year-old piling block upon block or turning a blue sky purple with the scribble of a crayon.

Each of those distracted moments is a memory lost.

I need to remember that all the time. I need to remember that right now.

Turn away from the negative thoughts and focus on what's good, right now.

I try, really I do. But I think, sometimes, I take comfort in the darker corners of my mind -- after all, it's less work to be angry than it is to be productive. It's simpler to hold a grudge than it is to forgive and move on. Anyone can be bitter and small. It takes strength to move past the bad and see the uselessness in replaying in your mind, over and over, the thing that hurts, that causes you frustration and anxiety. It takes self-control to not think of things that you wish you could change and realize that whatever has happened is done. There's no turning back.

I am better than that. I am bigger than my smallest, meanest, most difficult moments. I may not be able to control it all the time, but now, right this minute, I am good.

And right this minute is all that matters.

This post originally published on Empty House Full Mind