Memories can awaken the most tender emotions, bring us back to some ancient times, remind us of the people and moments that marked our lives. They are invoked by smells, sounds, famous faces, cities, landscapes… From small pictures they make up a mosaic of our life, tell the story of our soul, desires, hopes…Painful and unpleasant memories, however, are often "buried" in the depths of our being and reluctant to let them "go out".
We are afraid that if we let them return, it will take all our strength and whoever knows to convince us that we are so weak, fragile and vulnerable.
Memories give meaning to our lives, connect reality with the events of the past and thus create an image of the world we live in. They are the backbone of our identity and self-awareness. Although we go through many changes throughout our lives, memories allow us to experience ourselves as unique and unique beings. Memories are based on a specific form of memory - episodic or autobiographical memory. It is formed around the age of four, which, among other things, explains the lack of memory at an early age. Thanks to memories we create a subjective experience of time, we know about the past and the future. On a personal level, memories allow us to learn from our own experience, to pursue our goals. Memories are the meaning of our lives, because they determine what we were, what we are now and what we will be. They help us maintain objectivity and distance from the past and set ourselves differently towards the future. We all remember the 'smells of childhood', the smell of freshly baked cakes, fresh bread, our mother's perfume… which, every time we feel them, give us a sense of security and indulgence. What, besides fragrance, does it most easily bring back to us memories?
The sense of smell as the 'oldest sense' plays an irreplaceable role in the formation of memories. Neurologists say that one of the first signs of dementia, or pathological forgetfulness, can be a disorder of the sense of smell. Otherwise, the connection between sensory sensations and memories, while obvious, is surprising and mysterious. Every time we buy a souvenir or little thing that reminds us of a place we visited or an event that was important, we actually help the memory to preserve not only the facts but also the emotion that accompanied the event. This is how memories are born and created. The brain integrates concepts and experiences related to events, so it is the easiest to bring back memories that remind us of them - smells, music, names, faces, landscapes ... Can remembering beautiful times from the past help us feel better and how good it is to "warm up" to our memories? - Memories of significant events of the past are important to man, but also to society in general. Family history, for example, is materialized in photographs and stories from the past that family members share in moments of closeness. Memories, or memories, are an important pillar of identity. Success memories and bright moments are a source of strength and motivation, as well as shelter and escape. However, sometimes the "trapping in the past" that we idealized blocks us from dealing with current problems. The phenomenon of "immigrant nostalgia" is known, which is, in fact, the imagination of "utopia" in the past, which creates an unrealistic, nostalgic picture that everything used to be nicer and easier. However, the “courage” of the memories can be as healing as it is, and the recall of pleasant memories helps the most in depressive states. The vicious circle of bad memories and depression makes it impossible to realistically see our own strengths and weaknesses, it does not allow us to face reality. The memory of success helps to put current problems in the realm of reality, not to view failures as devastating, to perceive them as less terrible, difficult, but not unbearable and unchanging. It is not a false consolation, but an understanding of the complexity and richness of life.
Is it good to suppress unpleasant memories, on the other hand? - It is very difficult for people who have unpleasant and painful memories to talk about. Remembering traumatic events takes great courage, necessary in the path of change, to make our lives worth living. But the answer to the question of whether it is good to suppress unpleasant feelings is far more complicated. Traumas are long remembered. Even when we want to forget the whole being, the unpleasant memories come back even stronger and stronger, sometimes even in dreams. They are also common. "flash memories", and their specificity is extraordinary vividness and detail, so that a person has the impression that he is reliving a traumatic experience. Memory research, on the other hand, indicates that, in periods of intense stress and intense emotional distress, we can remember an emotional experience completely separate from the facts, whereby the brain may "store" the facts badly while preserving emotional memory. When faced with stress again, the part of the brain that stores emotional memories intensifies its activity, ie. memory of trauma. For example, an adult who is terrified of encountering dogs owes his phobia to a traumatic encounter with a dog in childhood without ever having to remember the event that triggered the fear. Psychology has known the possibility of consciously repressing unpleasant experiences. However, the memory of them can come back completely spontaneously even after many years. Nevertheless, the ability to block trauma memories is often a key survival strategy, a basic defense mechanism. Suppression is an active, motivated forgetting, which works completely unconsciously. Yet the repressed memories found in the unconscious continue to influence conscious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In psychotherapy, it is very important for a person to deal with unrecognized emotions, accept them and tolerate them, because they are an integral part of life. When it comes to fond memories, what depends on whom or what we will remember vividly, and what things will we forget completely?
People interpret reality in accordance with their similarity and experiences, giving events some meaning. In the memories of each person are those events that are important for that person, which are strongly emotionally colored and whose consequences are considered significant. When it comes to personal experiences that do not accompany strong emotional experiences, research indicates that we all suffer from partial amnesia. Mostly we can remember exactly what happened to us in the second half of our lives. If you are 20, you will remember the previous 10, if you are 60, remember the last thirty relatively well. Generally speaking, we all forget the information within three years, and what remains after that is usually permanently engraved into memory. The human brain is capable of storing around one billion information. So why does it happen that we can't remember some people or events, such as the name of the person we went to class with? - We often remember what we want to forget, and forget what we want to remember. People constantly forget, mis-remember and 'make' mistakes in memory, but those mistakes are a valuable signpost to how our memory works, in fact, how we function. It is possible that you did not remember the name of the person who went with you to the class because during that period you were, for example, too overwhelmed with yourself. It is also possible that you did not attach sufficient importance to that person, you simply did not bother to remember her. The events that are remembered by one of the proven techniques of good memory are long and strikingly remembered. These are powerful tools that even today allow you to remember, for example Pythagoras' theorems.
"The square over hypotenuse that every child knows, equals the sum of the squares over both catheters." The song is so catchy, catchy, and easy to etch into one's memory. When we transform personal experiences into creative, unusual images, exciting or humorous stories, we create the most memorable memories, even when their significance or emotional 'weight' is not too great. Using all the senses and giving movement to images further enhances the permanence of memory. Also, when you recall an event in the first 24 hours, you are more likely to remember it for longer. Does the way we remember things and create memories "reveal" us, do our memories depend on the type of personality, or do we still have some universal rules? - Universal memories are highly dependent on the culture to which one belongs. So, for example, the usual “memory package” of people from our space on the first day of school, first kissing, kissing, wedding day, birth of a child...Remembering the events in which we participated inevitably encounters gaps and ambiguities that we fill ourselves. In fact, we are adding, inventing and 'remaking' information automatically and unknowingly, to make sense of something. We adapt new experiences to our already existing knowledge, attitudes and prejudices, so it is hard to say that our memories are always a faithful copy of real events of the past. Even when we are confident in our memory, it does not necessarily mean that it is true.
Author: Elisabeth Allis, psychologist and psychotherapist
memories # sense of smell # universal memories # memories # flash memories # repression #