The brain is a curious thing. There is evidence that no memory is ever forgotten, it just becomes pretty much inaccessible. Have you ever completely forgotten something until you were reminded of it by a friend or your diary? You may have started to remember details of something that you had completely forgotten.
Think about the last good meal you had – where it was, who you were with and what you ate. Unless that meal was particularly significant to you, you will probably forget about it at some point in the future. Even though the memory is still trapped somewhere in your brain you can’t access it because you don’t need to. If you didn’t forget then you’d remember every meal that you ever ate. Every street that you ever walked down, every shop window that you looked in, every bathroom that you used. Everything.
I vant you to remember everythink
Remembering a specific event would be impossible as it would be lost in the noise. All that remembering would be costly too. Imagine remembering every single place you ever put your missing keys! A memory bank without a search feature is useless, so the brain evolved a pretty good one, one that involves forgetting as much as it does remembering.
You remember things that mean something to you. They may be important to you, or things that are out of the ordinary (evolutionary speaking, strange things are worth remembering in case they prove to be a threat). The brain strengthens a memory by building more neural connections to it. Which memory to strengthen is determined by noting how many times you remember it. Often-remembered memories are obviously important and should be easily accessible. What you had for breakfast eight days after you learned to ride a bike is probably not worth remembering because you never gave it a second thought.
So how do you hack your brain to help you remember stuff that you need to remember? How do you take control of what you remember and forget?
There are just two things that you need to do to make sure that you can recall a memory:
Make it relevant
Make it strong
I have already covered a couple of ways in how you can try to remember lists, numbers and dates. More tips and tricks are on their way so stay tuned! Basically to remember something you have to make it more interesting, more unusual or emotionally charged. And you need something to hook it on to. Please check out my posts about the Hook and Major Systems for a primer.
Secondly you have to reinforce these memories by remembering them as often as needed. Cramming may help you to pass an exam but the knowledge that sticks is the stuff that you were engaged with over a longer period. There are methods and apps that can help with this also. I’ll be covering them in a new post soon.
So don’t worry about forgetting! Just try to use it to your advantage!
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