Imagine what you're doing with these (thoughts/distressing memories/feelings) is like fighting with a beach ball in a pool.
You don't like them, you don't want them, and you want them out of your life. So, you try and push this ball under water, out of your consciousness.
However, the ball keeps floating back to the surface, so you have to keep pushing it down or holding it under the water.
This struggling with the ball keeps it close to you, is tiring and futile. If you were to let go, the ball would pop up, float on the surface near you and you probably wouldn't like it.
But if you let it float there for a while, with your hands off, it would eventually drift away and out of your life.