From what I’ve read, brain research reveals that “getting over it” is virtually impossible. You also may be interested to hear what this means for the age-old idea of “forgive and forget?”
Until recently, it was thought that the hippocampus was the most important brain structure involved in memory.
New studies suggest that there are different types of memory, and that different brain structures play prominent roles in these different types of memory (LeDoux, 1994).
Your hippocampus is responsible for declarative memory (memories about facts and details), but the amygdala, which is the small almond-sized structure located at the top of the brain-stem, is mostly responsible for emotional memory (LeDoux, 1996).
Neuroscientists have long suspected a brain structure that triggers emotional reactions quickly and independently of the thinking brain. This explains why a Vietnam veteran who experienced traumatic situations in combat may experience a surge of anxiety years later when a helicopter flies over head.
This also supports why you experience feelings of anxiety when your spouse comes home late (even with good reason) after you are trying to rebuild the trust after an affair.
The amygdala (or the emotional memory) will actually detect features from current circumstances to decide if they are close enough to past emotionally significant events to warrant an emotional alarm (Atkinson, 2005).
So, if you are struggling with anxiety when a thought comes to mind or something reminds you of the painful event, the good news is that you aren’t going crazy.
But that’s not all…
If that’s not enough, research at New York Rockefeller University, led by Bruce McEwen showed that excessive and chronic exposure to stress hormones may lead to the death of neurons in the hippocampus (Siegel, 1999). This supports why some people forget the details of a traumatic experience.
But in contrast, stress enhances the function of the amygdala. What this means is that while someone may forget the details of a stressful event, they still may be emotionally hyperactive to future events.
So even if we may want to “forget it” and we may… we may not be able to “get over it”, at least not without a little help.
That is why I want to introduce you to a program developed by Dr Lee Baucom.
After years of counseling, Dr. Lee has run into many heavy cases. Besides helping 20,000 people through his program How to Save Marriages, he’s helped thousands of people face-to-face move past an affair but not before they confronted the issue of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the natural outcome of a series of specific actions you take to move past the pain you are feeling right now.
That means forgiveness isn’t something you can decide to give and BINGO, all is well (remember the emotional memory). After years of research, Dr. Lee has identified the process by which you can make forgiveness happen.
This process is designed to:
- Help you communicate how much the affair hurt you.
- Overcome and end obsessive thinking that won’t go away.
- Eliminate haunting images.
- Rebuild confidence in your partner.
- Build a fence around your relationship to protect it from harm.