Cleaning up the Emotional Moldy Oldies of our Minds

Our thought-life can be like a radio station that repeats the same tunes over and over, and when we have a hurtful or painful experience, it can cause us to ruminate or think of the past situation again and again, like a broken record. Have you ever had a disagreement with someone and after it was over you couldn’t get all the things you “should” have said out of your mind? I call this group of recycled stressful thoughts and the emotions they create “Moldy Oldies.” Moldy Oldies are different than those songs we remember that make us smile—they are painfully powerful. When these thoughts are directed toward ourselves they can actually cause depression and when they are directed toward another, can cause anger. These types of thoughts have been linked with general anxiety, post-traumatic stress, binge drinking, eating disorders, and self-injurious behavior and depression. Paying attention to what we are thinking about is critical to our health and happiness.

Our thoughts tend to travel in groups that center around a memory of a bad situation, in essence forming the “lyrics” to the Moldy Oldie. It becomes part of the landscape of our minds and pretty soon, that song is stuck in our head – stuck in our subconscious mind. A nasty little habit of our subconscious mind is it wants to hang on to painful events and emotions relentlessly in an effort to help us avoid similar pain in the future.

A client of mine had a favorite song that reminded her of her partner – the love of her life. It was their song. Eventually, the two had a bitter break-up, and that song became a reminder of anger and resentment.  A few years passed by and she soon found someone new. She was in the middle of a date with him one evening when this old song played through the sound system at their favorite restaurant. She hadn’t heard it for a very long time but that didn’t matter – out of nowhere she began to cry uncontrollably.  She and I worked together on all of the old “triggers” associated with their relationship and within a few sessions she no longer felt the old twinge. Each one of the reminders became a non issue.  She was freed up to move forward in her personal life in a way that felt good. No more outbursts!

Letting go of a Moldy Oldies

You try it.  Think of something that bothers you from an old relationship. Maybe seeing or thinking of that person with someone new, or maybe there is a memory makes you cringe for whatever reason. Maybe it is a thought of wishing it were like it used to be or wondering how you tolerated mistreatment for so long. All of these types of thoughts/emotions can leave us feeling heavy and in the past. We want to be present. The present moment is where ALL the magic happens in life.

Take the following steps to free yourself from Moldy Oldies.

Stop what you are doing. Making a moment creates a space for something new to happen. 

Acknowledge how you are feeling. Most times we barrel ahead in life because thinking about it hurts too much.  A funny thing happens when we do this. Our emotions get louder, they need our attention. They are trying to tell us something hurts, something is wrong. Take a moment and honor how you feel. Listen to yourself. Name the emotion. Be gentle.

Breathe in deeply a few times. This helps create a relaxation response.

Repeat “I am open to relaxing about it” three times.  Offering something as simple as this mantra helps your brain associate something positive with the old uncomfortable or painful thought.  Studies show that your brain will hang onto a positive thought if it is offered. In some instances this may be the very first time you have offered a new supportive idea into the playback tape of your mind in this area.  Words and emotions are very tightly knit and you’ll find that offering this mantra will introduce a lighter emotion as well.

Try it a few times and if you are persistent you will be able to update your Moldy Oldy with a newer cooler emotional tune. You’ll know you’ve been successful if you feel better about it or better yet if you wonder why you were so upset about it in the first place.

Your body enjoys lighter emotional fare. Feeling emotionally lighter increases circulation, metabolism, energy and youthful vitality so don’t stop there choose another. It’s important to have a something simple to use in the spur of the moment. Going through this process will help you commit it to memory. You are worth it!

Reducing stress from old relationships is one of the most important things you can do for your health and business. It’s never too soon to heal your heart.

Diana E. Ruiz, M.A.

Diana E. Ruiz, M.A.

Grief Recovery Method® Specialist


Diana E. Ruiz, M.A.

Diana E. Ruiz MA helps women entrepreneurs resolve deep losses in life and relationships through practical steps so they can feel good in their skin again and experience their true brilliance in life and business. “The work Diana does is personally freeing and liberating…the added bonus? I am on fire in my business!” Rae Anne Hall – CEO Forward Principles – Diana is an Author, Grief Recovery Method Specialist®, Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner

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