Memory: Is It Really What We Think It Is?

September 21, 2016

We’ve all had the experience of remembering a certain embarrassment or failure that we feel so strongly about that we give a little shiver of disgust just thinking about it.

Our memories about our past have a very strong hold on us, and sometime have the potential to hold us back from doing really great things in life.

Today I want to unpack some common myths about our memories, and some tips that can help you think about memory in a new way. The biggest sign of strength in a person is the ability to get away from their past and move towards the future.

Our Memories Play Tricks Sometimes

Think about that one memory that makes you shiver in disgust every time it crosses your mind. Doesn’t it make that situation feel awful?

What if I told you your memories about that event are flawed or false? There is research that suggests that our memories change what actually happened into a different version in our heads.

Your memory likely did not happen in the same way that you imagine it. Studies have shown that the longer ago the event happened, the less likely you are to remember it correctly. Your memories change with time… So relax! That time that you spilled lemonade all over the clothes of the girl that you really liked in 3rd grade likely was not quite as bad as your memory suggests!

Our Memories and Emotions Are Connected

Our memories and our emotions are closely tied together; often, just thinking about one bad memory will trigger a rush of similar memories. This flood just keeps on coming until we are thoroughly bummed out about our day, our life, our romantic chances, and anything that we have our ego tied up in.

Why does this happen? Well, our minds tend to lump everything similar together into the same package. Triggering one memory means that we often “dislodge” several similar memories.

For example if you are on the web buying an amazing piano, you might start thinking about what music you have been listening to, your favorite artists, what concerts you like… And then get back on track later on. Your mind just wanders wherever it wants to.

Your negative memories work like this too; the moment you start thinking negatively you tend to run into a bunch more negative memories of the same kind. The best course of action, just like learning a new instrument or researching the best piano options, like on a page like this one, is to practice. Every time a negative emotion crosses your mind, know that if you don’t do something it will get out of control quickly.

Immediately engage your mind in something else. Do something active, start a new train of thought; anything to make sure that your mind does not go crazy. It is difficult at first, but worth it to learn how to control your emotions.

Start by writing down things you are grateful for; it sounds trite but it really does change your brain chemistry because you are learning to look for solutions, not problems. This way of thinking has the potential to change your LIFE, but you have to apply it!