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Writing happy memories to soothe a troubled mind

Kirsty Lilley (Independent Writer at Moreton-In-Marsh, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 25 November 2022

Issue publication date: 11 January 2023




The purpose of this paper is to explore how revisiting happy and pleasant memories might bring some peace to the minds of those who struggle with the ongoing impact of early life relational trauma. The author explores previously forgotten but important memories of happier times and safe relationships which have been outweighed by other traumatic memories. The author writes about the impact of revisiting the past through a different lens and how this helped reshape and redefine the future.


The author has written about revisiting happy and pleasant memories from lived experience. The writing is rich and evocative and gives voice to previously forgotten memories of pleasant life events and how soothing this has been.


The author concludes that it has been a helpful and soothing experience to spend time recreating memories of previously happy experiences. It is noted that this brings some balance and perspective to an early life which was dominated by traumatic events. The author suggests that it is possible to lever these pleasant memories to improve self-confidence and to bring about a reduction in harsh self-criticism.

Research limitations/implications

The author concludes that the stories we tell ourselves about our early life experiences impact greatly on our sense of self and the future ability to create a meaningful life moving forward. Whilst it is important for many to revisit painful experiences to process them fully and move forward, it is also important to focus on more pleasant experiences and relational contacts to bring about a fresh perspective and increased confidence. This helps to move a person from threat-centred behaviour to a more soothed and contented state.

Practical implications

The author has found that revisiting soothing and pleasant memories can serve to bring balance and a fresh perspective to early life experiences. It is also noted that the process of writing about these happy memoires has been beneficial in terms of successfully reliving them and savouring the helpful feelings they bring forth.

Social implications

By exploring the helpfulness of revising a life that has been greatly impacted by traumatic experiences and focusing on the more pleasant and happier times, the author has shown that it is possible to think and feel differently about the past. It is also noted that it is beneficial to feel the happiness these memories bring within the body and mind, and they can bring a sense of calm. This embeds the importance of also asking trauma survivors about the times that were more pleasant and happier for them within the therapeutic process.


This is the author’s first hand and unique testimony of how helpful it was to revisit happier memories in terms of how soothing it was to focus on these amid other more problematic memories. It is noted that this helped the author to regain a sense of hope and agency in terms of moving forward. This opinion piece contains moving and evocative stories about memories of supportive and warm relationships in the life of the author. The author also notes how helpful the writing process has been in terms of slowing down and being able to fully inhabit and savour these more pleasant memories.



Lilley, K. (2023), "Writing happy memories to soothe a troubled mind", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 88-92.



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