100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 53. Burn Some Old Memories

Maybe the notebook from your 7th grade? Maybe the teenage dumb poetry you wrote? Whatever it might be, break up with it. Might be difficult, but it might also be a sign that you’re so attached to the past that you can’t advance in your life anymore.

I know for sure I found it difficult. I somehow identified myself with those memories and felt like I was committing some kind of felony against myself if I would throw them away.

Took me a lot to understand that I’m not my memories. And even more to realize that our life is taking place in the present moment only. Not in the past, not in the future. Just the present moment.

Burning some old memories will be like throwing some ballast from your balloon: will lift you up, higher and higher. 

The Super Easy “How To Burn Some Old Memories”

I will give the easy guide because I find it to be the more effective. There are also difficult guides, like the one in which you prepare for months to burn them down or the one in which you just talk -maybe in a very eloquent way – but only talk about doing it at some point.


Go back to the drawer in which you keep those old memories, or, if you are the heavier type, bring up that huge box from the basement. Your mileage may vary here, but the point is to have the physical objects in front of you. Take all the memories out and put them in front of you. Have a garbage bin around. If you really plan to burn them, to this outside and take all the safety measures required. I’m not kidding. Fire burns. It burns not only memories, but it can also burn your clothes or your skin, if you’re not protecting yourself.


Now, that you have everything in front of you, browse through them. Slowly. Do not rush. If there are memories coming back to you, immerse in them. Don’t reject anything.

It may take a while. Maybe 20 minutes, maybe a couple of hours. But it’s important to let that settle in. Once you’re done, and you have enough of a distance form what you see, make a selection. You don’t have to burn anything, only the stuff that you’ve been feeling uncomfortable with. And by “uncomfortable” I mean from “strongly attached to” until “what is this thing still doing here” .

The Dumping

Now, take all that stuff and get rid of it. If you really want to burn it, set it on fire. If you just want to throw it away, throw it away. Whatever the method, do it fast. That’s the most difficult part, where the feelings you still have about those memories will rise stronger than ever. So, be fast.

And that’s it.

I know, this whole “how to burn out some old memories” guide sounds really dumb. It’s not rocket science. Everybody can do this. But it’s important.

Attachment to the past may be as dangerous to us as anxiety about the future. Both have to be addressed and their powers diminished, if we really want to get the most out of our lives.

My Personal Story

I did this with my high school poetry notebooks, a few years ago. During high school I wrote somewhere between 300 and 400 poems. I remember I was writing at night, in the dark, most of the times, because that’s when “inspiration” used to get me.

20-something years later I burned those notebooks. I followed the ritual above very carefully. I remember that in the box where I kept the notebooks there were also some other things I wrote: a novel I never finished, some series from the times I was working as a radio anchor and so on. I kept those. But I know that sometimes in the future I may burn them too.

I didn’t literally burn the notebooks. Some of them I teared to pieces, some of them I just threw in the garbage bin. It felt strange for a few minutes. There were mixed sensations of anxiety, regret, confusion and lack of identity. But, just like the clouds are dissolving after a summer rain, the sensation dissipated in about half an hour. Or less.

And then the first sensation was about breathing. I started to breathe significantly easier. It was like an important weight that I carried with me – although I couldn’t put my finger on it – was lifted. I felt lighter. Not necessarily better, but lighter.

I still had some questions to ask myself about where I was heading, but at least I was able to move now.

further reading

50 Ways To Start Fresh

Start Your Day In 33 Different Ways

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/annecentral/384332356/

1 thought on “100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 53. Burn Some Old Memories”

  1. It’s not all bad, sometimes people take good trips down Memory Lane and items can bring back lost memories. Middle ground would be to take a picture of the thing then throw it away. You save the memory for stories with the grand-grand-kids and lose the clutter and that weight on the shoulder.
    PS: it would be nice to have the security question before the submit/post comment button


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