Arguing & memory and who got it wrong?

So who's right and who's wrong?


goats butting heads to argue


Me and hubby had words yesterday. Nothing major really, just about what groceries we needed, the usual been married for donkeys years run of the mill tetchiness.

A bit later on he asked me why I'd reacted as I did. 'Hmph.' I snorted, rolling my eyes 'what do you expect when you say something like that?'

'Like what?' So I told him what he'd said and he just shook his head and bemused replied 'I never said that at all or anything like it!'

Now I don't take bemusement well, and as far as an apology went it was lacking greatly in the 'yes you're completely right as usual' words of appeasement.

But to be honest by this time I couldn't actually remember him saying what I'd thought he'd said at all, so I backed off from fully demanding a retraction and just let it lie. I'm a great peacemaker like that Winking

But this post is all about memory and the way you can recall exactly your very own and unique perception of something that happened. And the reality of remembering is that it is not, nor ever can be an unbiased brain recording of past events.

Near enough a hundred years ago in his book 'Remembering' Sir Frederick Bartlett describes a study in which he asked a group of people to read and then retell a story, a north American Indian folktale called 'The War of the Ghosts.'

He found that the people retelling, distorted the story to fit in with their pre-existing experiences, omitted the parts they deemed irrelevant and changed the emphasis and structure of the story to match their own view of how the world worked.

Which is exactly what hubby accuses me of doing....or is it me that accuses him
....well, we probably take turns to be fair, riding that particular horse into town.

What seems to be true is that...

"You don't remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened."
(John Green from An Abundance of Katherines)

When something is happening what we really do is view that thing differently depending on our mood at the time, what we already know and what we expect to happen next.

Its an evolutionary thing. To be able to simultaneously process whats happening right at the minute, its similarity to what's happened in the past and to get creative with what that means is going to happen next, i.e. to prepare ourselves by considering more than one possible future stemming from whatever we are experiencing right at that point.


The fact is that memory evolved to be forward looking. A crucial function of the brain to be able to predict and plan for possible eventualities.

So that's it. Our memories are an amalgamation of feelings, fact, past experience and imagination. oh and motivation at the time. And that's okay....unless it's not that is.

With hypnotherapy its hardly ever essential to go raking over old hurts or painful memories but sometimes if they are colouring your experience right now, or you feel stuck in a moment unable to move on then it seems eminently reasonable to take another fly by that old memory. To see it from the air if you like or from another viewpoint, most definitely with a fresh frame of mind and more than likely a more beneficial motivation. To step back and reframe that recollection, untangling emotion and freeing yourself from its restriction.

Then what you remember really does become what happened.






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