Dirt Road with Maple Trees in Winter Sunrise












What if you had a photographic memory? It sounds pretty amazing.

But what if your memory went way beyond photographic, and you could literally remember every single day of your life?

What you ate for breakfast April 25th, 2011…

What day of the week was it on April 25th, 2004 and what you did that day…

What the headline news was on April 25th, 2002…

There are, according to scientists, at least 20 people with hyperthymesia. Individuals with this rare ability are able to recall, without effort, what happened on any given date, assuming that the events had some significance to them.

But it’s not always helpful to have super-human memory.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) said: People think of forgetting as a problem, but I see it as a great gift.

The Rebbe, who is sometimes called the Doctor of the Soul, said that (troubling) memories interfere in both our material and spiritual paths in life. 

In contradistinction from modern psychology, which generally posits that intrusive memories cannot be forgotten, the Rebbe stressed the need to actually work on forgetting painful, shameful, or embarrassing memories, especially those which lead us to feel badly about ourselves.

While it’s true that there’s a benefit to the way in which psychotherapy often asks us to examine these kinds of memories, we believe that both therapist and patient have to be aware that dealing with painful memories should be a judicious combination of depth and a light touch. After processing and resolving memories like this, they should be explored only to the extent necessary as to how they relate to the present, if at all.

We can do this by working on lovingly detaching from the emotional imprint or response a painful memory creates. Breathing techniques and meditation, biofeedback, and prayer, can assist in helping to deescalate painful emotions associated with memories.

Nobody can resolve every issue in their past and present. We have to be cautious about working on issues that are having a direct, unwanted impact on our lives. Memories that we can lay to rest, we should.