How To Use Your Worst Memories For Personal Growth

By Madelaine Romero
How To Use Your Worst Memories For Personal Growth

According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, wisdom, or personal growth, most often comes from bad experiences like failed relationships or serious illness. How does a person turn these bad memories into personal growth instead of seeing them as a personal failure?  Psychologists believe that your worst memories can be used for personal growth by conscious reflection instead of rumination.

Rumination is dwelling on the problems you faced in the past and magnifying your misfortune. Rumination is a “pity party” you replay over and over again in your mind. Being stuck in your worst memories creates a cycle of low self-esteem, poor choices, and bad outcomes.

Conscious reflection is very different than rumination.  Reflecting on your worst memories to use them for personal growth requires practice. 


 These tools can help:

  • Recognize and limit time spent
  • Consider solutions
  • Mindfulness
  • Find happiness within
  • Connect with others
  • Practice gratitude


Recognize and Limit Time Spent

While reflection is essential, you need to move past reflection. Recognize when you are too focused on your memories and limit the time you spend thinking about them.  Otherwise, you won’t force yourself to move forward and use the memories for personal growth.

If you’ve had a bad day or feel you’ve made a mistake, limit yourself to a set amount of time to think about it.  Don’t re-visit your worst memories every time something bad happens. Remind yourself that you have the power to change yourself and don’t let your worst memories control you.  Building your self-esteem is part of your personal growth.


Consider Solutions

Once you’ve acknowledged a memory, consider what you can do now to avoid the situation again.  Do you need more education, training, or practice?  Think about who helped you during a difficult time and how you can strengthen your relationship with them.  Empower yourself to change the outcome in the future instead of making another bad memory.


To move forward, you need to move past your worst memories.  Mindfulness keeps you in the present moment instead of being caught in the past or worrying about the future.  Practicing mindfulness is a key part of personal growth.   Mindfulness helps you control your actions and reactions.

Mindfulness brings the lesson you learned from a painful memory together with the new skills you’ve developed to overcome challenges.  It allows you to focus on now and center your thoughts on how to control the situation you are currently experiencing.  Mindfulness helps you avoid the distractions of emotions like fear or regret and enables you to accept new challenges.


Find Happiness Within

People who base their self-worth and happiness on the opinions of others often have terrible memories of being left out or ignored. You can use your worst memories to build your own path to happiness and find what brings you real joy.   Bad memories remind you to practice self-care, know your strengths and weaknesses, and build for your future.   Your personal growth depends on your ability to know yourself and develop your self-esteem.


Connect with Others

Personal growth includes connecting with people who can help and support you. You can learn from your worst memories which people do not support you and how to find and carefully place your trust in those who do.  Trust your instincts. 

Your worst memories can show you personality traits to avoid in people who will not help you on your journey. Learn how to be the type of person others can trust by treating people the way you want to be treated, not the way you were in your worst memories.


Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is part of the foundation of personal growth.  Being grateful for what you do have and for what you have accomplished helps you prepare to gain more.  Gratitude builds your self-esteem and creates a growth mindset.

You survived the situations that caused your worst memories.  By learning from them, you achieve personal growth.   Being grateful for the experience and the lessons you learned helps you leave your worst memories behind.

No one enjoys experiencing failure, mistakes, or difficult situations.  Don’t allow your worst memories to hold you back.  Use them to fuel your personal growth by building your self-esteem and preparing for the future.  

Schedule a call with a Memory Coach and get personalized support to improve your cognitive function.