Published: 28th February 2017
When unforgettable memories haunt you
Leaving the science aside, what do memories mean to us on a psychological perspective? Memory defines us, our characters, our principles and interests.
We all wish we could DELETE certain memories to save us the HEARTACHE of our negative experiences? So this week, we’ll discuss about the integral part of our lives, MEMORY. It refers to the process in which data or information is formatted and stored, making it possible to retrieve it in the future. We have the freedom to delete and retain what we require on USBs, hard drives and other man-made storage devices but human memory is complex. We are yet to understand how we store and retrieve memories in spite of all the technological advancements.
To a large extent it has been proven that we don’t store memories in ONE PART OF OUR BRAIN. Researchers observed that there were different parts of the brain that became active for different memories and functions. We are blessed to have an amazing HARDWARE. The next question is... where is the storage for all this? Research has shown that our brain builds more and more neural networks as and when the need arises to increase our storage. Our amazing HARDWARE comes with UNLIMITED STORAGE too.
Leaving the science aside, what do memories mean to us on a psychological perspective? Memory defines us, our characters, our principles and interests. The learnings we have chosen to derive out of our memories forms our character. Simply put, what we remember and how we remember makes us what we are!
We all have memories we want to get rid of, those so called NEGATIVE MEMORIES which make us guilty and repent for something we did or experienced. But is it possible? Can we GET RID of them? The answer is NO! Let me explain...
If we observe the basics of how we create MEMORIES, we realise that in order to remember we need to experience or execute that process repetitively. But little do we realise that we tend to do the same thing (REPETITION) with negative memories too and expect the contrary to happen. The memories that we try hard to forget are the ones that we remember over and over again. The reason being that some object, person or situation might be LINKED directly or indirectly. These links as TRIGGERS. Based on the strength of the triggers associated with the memory, it leads to a variety of emotional imbalances and might lead to depression, isolation, etc. These imbalances add FUEL to the FIRE by reinforcing the memory stronger every time it is recalled.
How we deal with this then?
The best way to deal with BAD MEMORIES is by DESENSITISATION. One of the main reasons we try to forget something is to avoid that anxiety or feelings we experience when we think about it. It is similar to FEAR and like in most cases rather than experiencing it we choose to escape from it.
The first step is to accept that it has HAPPENED! It is OVER. The next step is to be strong and remember this memory with a ‘SO WHAT!’ attitude. In the sense, face this memory, think about it over and over again for a specific time that you have set to work out of this. After some time, you’ll realise that this memory doesn’t bother you as much as it did. Ensure that you have set a specific time for this activity and remember EVERYTHING, I mean even the slightest detail so that it forms a loop, which is complete and you can avoid repeating this process. This is DESENSITISATION.
The next step is to increase our AWARENESS levels and learn to identify the TRIGGERS. Is it a particular color or an object? We need to find what is making us revisit these memories. Then, we need to remove or avoid these triggers. There are some triggers that cannot be avoided, but ensuring that we are aware of these triggers helps us move towards acceptance and desensitisation faster.
Lastly, keep yourself busy and distracted with productive things. When we have ample time is when we tend to visit old memories. If we’re busy all the time No IDLE MIND, hence NO Devil!
My Final Word
We all have bad memories, we all have learnt our lessons. We are born to experience life to the FULLEST and negative experiences are a part of it. Let’s be more cautious by ACCEPTANCE rather than trying to ESCAPE or be stuck in DENIAL. If we never had bad memories and only had good ones would we appreciate the latter or understand its VALUE?
Adarsh Benakappa Basavaraj,