Many people blame age, genetics or “it’s just who I am” when our memory doesn’t provide an immediate reaction. When we lose our thoughts, words or stories, it can be frustrating, annoying or even a bit scary. It might mean that we’re “losing our minds” or that we have a deficit that can’t be recovered or regained.
I choose to see it differently. A friend of mine told me once “memory is a luxury item” and I’m increasingly prone to agree. Imagine a stressful situation – let’s start dramatically – the sound of a wildcat around a corner while hiking in the woods or jungle. Your system requires you to be ‘present’ in that very moment, to react immediately, automatically, and specifically, not remember your 3rd Grade teacher’s name or eye color.
The modern equation of many lists, people and experiences, added to the chronic stress of traffic, financial stress, or news-spreading concerns, creates a ‘wildcat’ response where we tend to dump what isn’t needed (or the conscious mind feels isn’t needed).
When we view it in this way, we may be a bit more forgiving when we (inevitably) drop the ball here or there – and we can develop some tips and tricks to help us juggle the ones we have. So here are five tips to create a better relationship with your memory…
1. Take a deep breath and count to 10
This is straight out of my mom’s book when I was 5 (good for falling down, forgetting where I put a toy, getting into a fight with my sister). She told me to close my eyes, take a deep breath and count to 10. It’s a wonderful combination. Deep breathing brings needed air/oxygen into the system to help us think more clearly and calm our bodies. Counting distracts our conscious minds while our powerful subconscious mind can sort out a solution or find the thought that couldn’t be found by thinking harder.
This little practice can be called self-care – it doesn’t have to be complex or take a long time, and it can take many different forms. Just giving yourself a few seconds tends to increase self-efficacy and gives you a little time to settle yourself. I’m a big advocate for self-care in my hypnosis practice and believe everyone should collect some simple tools that work best for them.
2. Practice stress in a controlled/surmountable environment
Sweat may be sweet in this situation. Exercise. When we do activities that raise our heartrate, there is stress within the body that didn’t exist while we are sedentary. However, when we stop this activity/exercise, the stress response calms, and we recover. Unlike chronic stressors, this is self-created and, hence, within our control. When we practice or repeat this, our body gets used to the ups and downs of stress, building both resiliency and a model for ‘coming down’ from a stress peak. It teaches our bodies how to reduce our stress after an event, which we can translate to other situations in our lives.
An extra bonus is that exercise tends to create new connections in the brain. Increasing the size and number of connections within our incredible thinking system. More and more research is discovering that theories of the finite nature and permanence of neural connections is being overturned for a more dynamic model – this is great news for those who move.
3. Give yourself a “workable” suggestion
“I’ve got a bad memory. Sigh” isn’t it. The words we say to ourselves are the suggestions we take in. When we repeat these suggestions – as people invariably do – they are reinforced and compounded, creating a convincing reality for the subconscious mind to believe. So this type of response confirms the problem in our mind and forces a consistency in our forgetting.
“It’ll come to me (in a moment/minute)” seems to work much better. Like a butterfly that flitted away from us for a short while but will settle when we calm, our subconscious mind will tend to find what its looking for when the conscious mind (the one that repeats “what WAS his name” when unsuccessfully trying to make an introduction) is out of the way. I’ve found that when I’m gentle with myself, and sometimes even playful, that ‘shy’ little thought makes its way back to me. Maybe a tad late, but back to me none the less.
4. It’s Recall, Not Memory
Imagine a poorly filed filing cabinet or one that has just been ransacked by a sneaky ‘gremlin’. The content of the filing cabinet is your memory. The organization (or lack of it) is recall. The situation mentioned above is recall at its worst – and you may have felt your ‘files shuffled’ when you’ve lost a thought.
The great news is that (unless there has been physical damage), our memory is stored just fine – but access to that information is difficult. Like a tap that is stuck in the almost off position – the water is there but needs an opener to let it flow. Self-care and movement are two examples of ways to remove the block.
5. Acknowledge “fullness” rather than failure
With our full schedules and loves, we sometimes forget that our resources may be stretched in ways that don’t make it easy to keep track of it all. So I want to congratulate you for going to the max. Well done you for having so many thoughts, ideas and experiences that fill not only your days but your mind.
Just as people can become emotionally flooded, sometimes we need to give ourselves a break for being, temporarily, full. Have you ever tried to add liquid to an already topped-up cup – it ‘runneth over’! Instead of seeing it as a failing, it might simply be a message that you need to attend to what is filling your mental space and see if it’s the quality or priority or benefit you want and deserve in your life. You might be surprised that this gentler new perspective frees up some space so that your memory starts improving. But for now, close your eyes, take a deep breath and count to ten…
Bonus tip: Hypnosis Can Help
If you need some suggestions or ways of ‘sorting your filing cabinets’, speaking directly to the subconscious mind is a quick and easy way to make shifts in your mind and memory. If some of the other aspects of your life are putting pressure on your ability to remember, hypnosis can help as well. Contact me if you have any questions. Ready to remember who you really are? Schedule a session or bundle so that you can start having a clearer mind and more access to thoughts and patterns that support you better.
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