On the eve of a new year I want to explore memories. My daughter used to take voice lessons when she was young, and one of her recital performances was “Memory” from the Cats musical. It just started playing in my head.

Why is it I remember certain events in my past and not others? How come I recall paramount memories; that is, it seems I remember mostly those that are wonderful and bring me pleasure and those that ‘haunt’ me? Where are my benign memories stored?

First, my hero Milton H. Erickson in a lecture On Hypnosis in Psychiatry in 1957 said the following.

“I like to regard my patients [as] having a conscious mind and an unconscious or subconscious mind, and I expect the two to be together in the same person. And I expect both of them to be in the office with me. I also expect when I’m talking to a person at the conscious level I expect him [or her] to be listening to me at the unconscious level as well as consciously.”

Then, let me use the word subconscious for those activities of our mind and soul that are not in our awareness. This for me is different from being unconscious, which might be a medical term for knocked or passed out. Conscious thoughts are in our awareness or could be should we decide to be mindful and put our attention to them.

My theory on memories is reflected in answers to the above questions.

Why is it I remember certain events in my past and not others? Think remarkable, outstanding, what you deem out of the ordinary. Like the tip of the iceberg, kind of thing. The part of the iceberg poking out of the water is the remarkable and recallable part. The water line is some personal threshold connected to emotion, thought, and well-being. The part of the iceberg beneath the water is the entire event, everything surrounding it, the place, people, actions. The important part of the iceberg underwater is it is know-all, see-all, hear-all – the all-encompassing Truth — of the situation. That also describes our subconscious.

Sometimes the exposed part of the iceberg or the remembered memory is wonderful, blissful, warm, fuzzy, joyful and peaceful. Rad, sick, dope, way cool. 

Sometimes the exposed part of the iceberg memory is painful, regretful, guilt ridden or accusatory, and most important of all, unprocessed and unresolved. 

How come I recall paramount memories; that is, it seems I remember mostly those that are wonderful and bring me pleasure and those that ‘haunt’ me? Wonderful memories allow you to continue to feel the love, share the love, live in love. Hang out in them and spread the word.

Haunting or emotionally “negative" memories are messengers, your own subconscious knocking on your door. They may appear out of nowhere, when in fact they appear more like words in a game of association. Your subconscious is all about making everything in your being jive and hum in health and balance. It makes literal and figurative associations that boggle the conscious mind. Anything in present time has your subconscious making connections, looking for the slightest opportunity to deliver up helpful information, such as an unresolved life event a.k.a. memory.

A recurring memory who has gotten your attention at your front door needs attention. 

“How may I help you?” you might ask.
“Oh no, I am here to help you,” says your memory.
“How so?” you say.

From “Memory” you ‘must wait for the sunrise,’ you ‘must think of a new life’ and you ‘mustn't give in. When the dawn comes, tonight will be a memory too. And a new day will begin.

Here is how to think of that new life. How quickly can you consider and answer these questions?

  • What have you come to know now about yourself and life that would have allowed you to make it through that event unscathed?
  • What do you now know about life and the human condition that would have allowed you to come through that event empowered?
  • Once you’ve given yourself that awareness, truth, and knowledge (as in, install it right now), how does that event play out differently?
  • What could you have done to prevent any harm to be done to you? And to others?
  • What resources could have been injected into the others involved so they could have made better decisions?
Memory knockin 3 doors

A memory will not stop knock, knock, knockin' at your door until you open it, welcome it, and allow it to serve you. After it helps you, it becomes benign. 

Where are my benign memories stored? I have a mental room called “That-Which-Is-No-Longer-Needed,” and life is good there for any who enter it. Benign memories go in the That-Which-Is-No-Longer-Needed room. I can go in there anytime I wish and walk around, revisiting friends, family, acquaintances, strangers, betrayers, murders, saviors. I thank each one for contributing to my brief but meaningful journey on Earth here. Each one was necessary; each one was a lesson of some sort; each one made me who I am. Who I AM.

The subconscious works in mysterious ways. Have you noticed that it delivers knowledge, meaning, and value not only via memories but also in music? Thank you, subconscious, for “Memory” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” 

Lastly, less metaphysically and more practically, Richard Bandler is one of the founders of NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) and is still active in the world of change. Here is a demonstration of “Overcoming Bad Memories” that is quite revealing of his skill and demeanor. Sorry if you are offended by his humor.

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© Kris Kramer Coach 2019