Last update: July 07, 2016
There are memories that, suddenly, upset our souls, snatching us a complicit smile, almost mocking, but above all therapeutic. Because in moments of difficulty there is nothing more beautiful than to half-close the door of our memory and let ourselves be overwhelmed, little by little, by the happiness of yesterday and, consequently, find the strength to face the present.
It is often said that memory captures wonderful moments that no photograph would ever be able to capture. Because no electronic media is able to evoke odors, cause goosebumps, let us savor the taste of a kiss or the cool breeze of a dawn.
Wonderful moments leave unforgettable memories, memories that make us laugh, that upset our soul and that show us that everything that was once in our mind still lives in our heart.
One aspect to consider about memories and memory is that contrary to what many may believe, it is not a trunk. It is not a space of infinite capacity where we pour data, images and experiences that faithfully correspond to reality to keep them under lock and key. Memory, in reality, is like a canvas capable of creating, adding new tones, transforming and even erasing.
Memories and the lock of our conscience
According to William James, the famous philosopher, psychologist and brother of Henry James, memory and consciousness are like a key with its lock. Let's take an example: listening to a melody, our memory goes back to a moment in the past. We don't need a time machine. It is an involuntary memory, one of the many that come to mind almost without realizing it during the day.
We remain suspended for a few seconds in the fog of that memory, in that instant that can be the bearer of a positive or negative value, until our conscience calls us and drags us back into the lock of reality. This momentary, punctual and intense journey, far from being a total disconnection and without any use, is integrated in turn into one's own consciousness.
We spend most of our life "remembering things, evoking the past" and we do it because, according to what neuroscience explains, memory is that eternal traveler who invites us to her big island to evaluate the past, to put the present into practice and plan for the future. All this is integrated in our consciousness, in that luxuriant, chaotic and distinctive "whole" that characterizes each of us in a unique way.
“Remembering is easy for those with memory, forgetting is difficult for those with heart”.
-Gabriel García Marquez-
However, one aspect that we talked about at the beginning and are going back now is related to the fact that memory does not always reproduce the facts faithfully. The same reality experienced by two people can be remembered differently, as each of us interprets (perceives) what he sees in one way or another - this is where the magic and mystery of human memory resides. The brain is not a camera or a photocopier, the brain is a very skilled interpreter.
Yet all of this can actually be a fabulous weapon at our disposal. Here because:
Memory and emotions
We can all be architects of our reality and make use of memory and emotions to advance our way with greater confidence and ease. Therefore, keep in mind the following strategies:
- Selective memory allows us to heal wounds. Let's take an example: you are about to break up a relationship with a person. One way to deal with pain is to avoid focusing on memories of negative or traumatic events. In doing so, in fact, you would not advance and you would end up being prisoners of suffering. It is about accepting the facts, being able to close a cycle and make sure that the positive memories are more vivid than the negative ones. Only then can you say that you had "a life worth living."
- Memories during depression can be a double-edged sword. According to an interesting study published in the journal "Frontiers in Psychology", inviting a patient with depression to remember happy moments from their past can be counterproductive. In these cases, the brain has been found to be unable to activate reward circuits, as depressed people are characterized by an anhedonia in which they are unable to enjoy positive memories or experiences.
So, therefore, during the difficult moments of our life, before rescuing the past from the lock of our memory, the best thing is to "build the present", connect with the "here and now" to realize that, often, it is enough to change even a single thought to give life to a new emotion capable of improving our reality. Sometimes, the engine of change just needs that vital spark: a positive, hopeful emotion.