Memories We’d Love to Keep or Rather Forget
When I was just a little tyke, I remember the moment I learned how to tie my shoes. I can still see the cardboard “shoe” with laces I could practice on and how happy my grandmother was at my success. I felt like a grownup. It was an exciting day.
I was thrilled when I succeeded at other grown up tests of skill like when I learned how to ride a bicycle or graduate from the bunny slope on skis. (It doesn’t take much to make me happy.)
But there’s a whole slew of experiences that got buried within the recesses of my brain. My siblings remember more things about our growing up years that I do. And the years filled with child-rearing were lost in a deep, dark hole. It’s not because I’m older now and have too much to remember.
You know it’s true. We remember certain events more than others. Perhaps it’s because memories that bubble to the top were emotionally significant. For better or worse.
Research backs it up
Researchers identified a mechanism within the brain that tags information with emotional association for enhanced memory. (Source: Columbia University)
Why do we remember emotional events better than non-emotional ones? You can read more about it from this article in the Neuroscience News.
So the key is to link an event with an emotional association. Let’s hope you can do the linking with positive experiences although, sadly, that’s often not the case.
“Memories – like the corners of my mind”
Some memories stick out. Lets see how many you can link to any of these emotional events:
- Camping when your partner got out of their sleeping bag at three in the morning to accompany you to the restroom. They didn’t want you to walk there alone.
- Graduation from grammar school, high school or college
- When you first learned how to drive a car
- Then your first (or only?) car accident
- Your first public presentation
- The best or worse performance review you’ve ever received
- Your wedding day
- When you learned how to swim
- Being dumped (or ghosted) by someone who was very important to you
- Getting your first promotion
- Winning an award (from a writer’s competition, your painting, exceeding sales goals, winning the baseball game, etc.)
- The first time you had to fire someone
- When your mom, dad or boss said, “I’m proud of you!”
Teenage Memories You Least Expect
Young people may remember things about you that happened when they were a teenager. My daughter’s best friend once told me she loved the split pea soup I made.
“When I knew you made the pea soup I’d come over to your house just so I could have some. I’ve tried making it myself, but it never turned out right. The peas just floated in the pot.”
“What kind of peas did you use?”
“Baby peas in the freezer bags.”
“You used real peas, not the dried ones?”
“There’s more than one kind of pea?”
She also came to our house to visit my daughter, but the soup was the big draw. It’s funny what your kids’ friends remember that you’d never have guessed.
I once drove my son and his friend up to a Reservoir in the middle of winter. On the way up our car was slipping on the snow-packed road. So I said, “Boy, I wish we had studs on the tires.”
Then, from the back seat a seventh grade voice piped up…
“Mrs. Benjamin (now Lollar) you’ve got two big studs back here.”
It was so unexpected and it was funny! Maybe that’s why I remember it.
We never know which memories will stick in our brain and which ones will slip out at some point in the future. (They can also make great blackmail opportunities.)
But on a positive note, some activities may increase your memory odds for the future. There are photographs, videos, journaling, keeping an “Achievements” log for all the great things you’ve done at work. Swap stories with friends and family. Sing. Interview your parents and your kids. It can be a real eye-opener and it all helps to keep memories alive.
But no doubt, some things you’d rather forget!