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How to tell if memories are preventing you from moving forward

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6 steps to overcome those nostalgic moments that dominate your life.

When we read or hear the word “nostalgia,” we tend to think of ideas like sorrow, sadness, or melancholy. We associate this word to a loss that causes us pain. Nostalgia is a feeling that invades us when we think about some memories from the past. But nostalgia is not always negative.

Characteristics of nostalgia

Nostalgia comes up in different situations and in different ways.

  • It’s a feeling. A feeling is the subjective experience that accompanies emotions. That is, it’s a light and quick impression.
  • It’s common to all people. Nostalgia affects all of us, no matter our gender, age, socioeconomic level, culture, etc.
  • Some people are more prone to feeling nostalgia than others. People are very different because we are all unique and unrepeatable. The tendency toward nostalgia depends a lot on our personality and our way of seeing life.
  • We idealize the object of our nostalgia. Memory protects us by keeping the good memories and discarding most of the negative ones.
  • It can be provoked by different triggers. Feelings make us re-live associations that our brain had previously created.
  • It helps us grow personally. Nostalgia allows us to know ourselves more deeply, to draw the best out of ourselves, to raise our self-esteem. It protects us from loneliness and gives us strength to face new challenges. The key is in knowing how to use it to move forward. Let’s be thankful for the positive events that have formed us, because this is an essential part of our well-being.

Some tips for overcoming nostalgia

If we feel nostalgia too frequently, let’s keep these tips in mind to overcome it:

  1. Be realistic. We all make comparisons between past and current phases. Take your time to adapt to new phases in your life.
  2. Explore your feelings. Evaluating ourselves on occasion helps us change things that aren’t working in our lives and look for alternatives. Emotional intelligence helps us to look at our mental processes to know ourselves better.
  3. Communicate with positive people. We need to talk about the roots of our nostalgia in order to find our well-being. Keeping in touch with friends and relatives can be the key to overcoming our sad feelings.
  4. Think positive. It’s best not to dwell on the stimuli that can cause us sorrow. Remember that we have the capacity to change our present. Setting new goals for ourselves can give us new motivation to keep developing our own life in peace.
  5. Stay in touch with loved ones. One of the best ways of fighting nostalgia is to stay in touch with your own family and friends. A well-nourished affective side is a source of emotional serenity.
  6. Look for help if you can’t stop the nostalgia. Mental health professionals are prepared to care for you in cases of excessive nostalgia. It’s very possible that they could improve your quality of life substantially, but do make sure to look for people with the requisite degrees. Expert psychologists with experience can help you get through a wide range of problems, including excessive nostalgia.

In conclusion, a healthy nostalgia sparked by happy memories is also a healthy symptom of appreciation for all those experiences that have real value in life. The important thing is for our present to be serenely enriched by the positive feelings and memories of our past.

Nostalgia is a human emotion and it sensitizes us, making us appreciate everything that the passage of time shows us is important in our life.

This article was originally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia and has been translated and/or adapted here for English speaking readers.

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