How do I deal with painful memories? My method is to re-live the event in my imagination, but to change the outcome to one I’d prefer. For me, this tends to defuse the emotional link to the event — now it’s just another event and it no longer stings. And if it doesn’t remove the hurt the first time, I just keep re-imagining until it sticks, sometimes with different endings.
Here is an example: When I was little, my father unexpectedly dragged me to my room and threw me on my bed and started hitting me for refusing to eat a pork-chop. That memory haunted me for a while. So in my imagination, I remember sitting at the dinner table, refusing to eat the pork-chop, and then being thrown on the bed, but when the hitting starts, older me is there, with a baseball bat, and sh*t gets real. And let’s just say that pork chop gets eaten, but it wasn’t by me.
Another example: When I was little, I attended an after school event where we watched a movie in the cafeteria. I was sitting in my seat when a child with a known behavioral problem showed up and demanded my seat. I said it was my seat and he punched me in the nose, making it bleed. So in my imagination, I remember sitting in my seat watching the movie, then the child with the behavioral problem appears, so you can guess what I do? That’s right, I calmly explain to him that he’s welcome to sit in the empty seat next to me and we can enjoy the movie together.