Painful emotional memories can be changed. Emotional memories consist of networks in your brain and your body. Recent research shows that when such networks are activated, they can also be changed by adding new emotional experiences. Lets say you have grown up in an unsafe environment with a threatening father. The memory of him being threatening exists as a network in your brain and body.
By talking about what happened, how it was for you growing up there and actually contacting the emotional memories that were made back then, we can activate the network that is your emotional memory. Then we can get hold of your emotional needs at the time, for instance the need for safety and protection. You can then gain access to assertive anger against your father who mistreated you, and even activate compassion towards yourself as an unsafe and unprotected child. Emotions of assertive anger and self-compassion has the potential to change the emotional memory, so you no longer experience yourself as useless or unworthy. It’s as if you have rewired some important wiring inside your brain and body.
Other examples of typical changes is to stand up against someone who has bullied or criticized you, feel anger and sadness due an abscent parent, mourning over something you have experienced, or feeling compassion for yourself over having lost something or someone you loved very much. More recent memories, such as a conflict from work or a difficult breakup can also be worked with in a similar fashion. There is a good amount of research to support the assumption of how emotions can change emotions.