Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

Good Memories and Bad

When I receive a compliment, I say “Thank you” and move on. Sometimes it feels good for a while but good comments are quickly forgotten and do not embed in my memories.

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But oh those insults!  I remember every slight and every insult.  The girl who told me I had “cow eyes” in third grade?  I remember where we were standing and what I was wearing.  The times I was told that I was not tough enough or mean enough for a career in plant operations?  Each man who said that to me is permanently etched in my memory bank.

Why is this and how can I unclog my thinking? As I age I am very concerned about my memory banks and what they contain.  But, is there a deliberate way to defrag the hard drive?

The New York Times science section recently had a great article on how memories get linked in the brain  and how we can unlink them?   It turns out that we can either suppress the memory and hinder the functioning of the brain or substitute the memory.  I like the idea of substituting and creating new links best.

So the next time I hear a compliment, I will try to make it a real memory by thinking about what I am wearing, how I feel and associate it with another positive thought—perhaps a glass of wine in a café in Paris?

And the insults and slights?  I will try to remember to delink the comment.  Maybe I should also go to my mental happy place or zen space.  Or maybe I should link my detractor with something funny like his cartoon double or how I will feel to prove him wrong.

Not sure which will work but the article has me thinking.

Christine Jacobs is an experienced corporate executive and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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