Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Memory Triggers Good and Bad

There are so many things that trigger memories, many of them have to do with the senses: smell, taste, hearing, and vision; but there are also places and actions that can spur a memory recall, some of them good, some not so welcome.  I find that the older I get and, I suppose, the more experiences I have, the more often these triggers are tripped and I remember something or someone.  The inspiration for this particular post topic came recently when I was blow drying my hair.

Because my hair is thick and wavy, I blow dry my hair with my head upside down.  I learned this trick from my cousin Wendy, a childhood best friend and a professional hair stylist. 
 Never dry your hair from the top down,” she told me years ago. 

Since then I have followed her advice.  Although that comment came, I’d guess thirty years ago, I still have Wendy pop into my head when I do this routine task.  Not too long ago I called her when this happened to share with her that I was thinking of her.

My Aunt Rita is another person who I learned a lot from.  I lived with my aunt and her brood many times throughout my life.  I'm sure I've never told her this stuff, but it was from her that I learned how to put on a bra and shave my legs.  And nothing brings back sweet memories more than a meal of pork chops, rice with gravy, and applesauce.  That was one of the meals Aunt Rita made and when I make it I am taken back to those days living with their large family and being counted as one of them. 

The many dishes I make that I learned from watching my grandmother make the loss of her in 1998 a little less sad. 

Eating a cucumber fresh from my garden reminds of my big brother, Mike.  I visited him at his home in Gowanda, New York many years ago and he proudly plucked one of these vegetables from his own garden and convinced me to take a bite, even though it hadn’t been peeled.  It was the delicious!  Now, I wash, not peel my own organic vegetables.  It was Michael, again, that I think of every time I shower with Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint soap. 

Then, there are the memories I wish I could banish from my mind and consciousness.  Sometimes I can’t figure out why they crop up when they do.  Why is it that I always think of a woman I had a particularly deep conflict with when I am emptying the dishwasher?  Why, when I’m in the garden pulling weeds do I think of the man who caused my family such distress?  I can only conclude they come up when they do because those were the locations where I spent time contemplating the problem and looking for solutions. 

These are just a couple of examples of incessant thoughts that come uninvited into my head that I find, if I don’t acknowledge them and replace them with happy thoughts, I obsess over.  There are some more that are much too personal to share here, but I will say they pop up at the worst times and those are the ones I wish I could banish forever.

For a while, I really thought I was going crazy because I couldn’t control the thoughts.  Having songs play over and over in my head give me the same feeling.  A little research proves I'm not nuts- that phenomenon is called "earworms!"    When these negative thoughts and reruns get stuck in my head, I have had to come up with methods to rid myself of them.  Whenever they make an appearance, I overpower them with affirmations that I repeat over and over.  It might sound like I am nuts, but I have to say the trick works.

If having to deal with some unpleasant memories is the price I have to pay to keep all of those wonderful ones in my mind, I am glad to do it.  Hey, I’m just thrilled that I still have memory recall; to me, losing my memories would be as horrible as losing my sight. 

What are your memory triggers?

“A moment lasts all of a second,
but the memory lives on forever.”


Justine said...

It is funny Lisa, I also think of a childhood friend who died in a car accident when I am drying my hair. I have no idea what the connection is - but she randomly pops into my head when I am drying my hair. It is so interesting how our brains work.

miruspeg said...

Lisa this is another interesting post. You are a very descriptive writer and very easy to read.
Ah memories and the unconscious mind! We all have trigger points and most of mine are songs.

I thought your observation about the memories coming from the locations where you spent time contemplating the problem and looking for solutions sounded very plausible.

Keeping shining.
Peggy xxxx

Tana Adams said...

What a great post and I love the quote at the end! I'm like you, so many memories, so little time. ;)

M S said...

Great post, you give me an idea for posting similar memories :)
And earworms...first time Iheard about it but it figures. Yes we have to substitute in order to get rid of the negative memory triggers