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Understand how memory works

Updated on August 29, 2017
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Em is a traveller, usually travelling on a shoestring, She has been exposed to many catastrophes! She also likes to do mental exploration.

They Say Elephants Never Forget

They say elephants never forget, but the first lesson in having a good memory is to be relaxed about forgetting. Stress is bad for remembering, so getting uptight about memory loss will only make your memory worse.

Gain Control of Your Remembering Processes

This article aims to supply a few answers to the understanding of how memory works and how to improve its workings, but also to raise some questions as well.

Scientific jargon

You will not find in it much reference to so-called scientific explanations: cortices, synapses and such, because I do not think that this is actually helpful in making better use of your memory.


However, I would say that the interplay of emotion and memory is very pertinent to gaining better control over what we want to remember. You may have observed the way that children "forget' things they do not want to do, like their homework. This can be your first step to gaining control of your memory; next time you forget something, ask yourself why you might have forgotten it. We often forget things we find painful or inconvenient. this is natural and it is the body-mind's way of protecting us from bad experiences and keeping us strong to fight another day.


Nobody likes being beat up or pushed around and our inner self also feels this way. so the next time you are trying to retrieve a memory from your subconscious, refrain from stressing and tying yourself in knots. Instead, calmly ask your inner self for the information you need and when you have your answer, do not forget to thank your higher self. Your self loves being thanked!

A Touchy-Feely Person

Helen Keller was blind and deaf
Helen Keller was blind and deaf

Dominant Senses

However, you should be aware that different kinds of people have different dominant senses, so that some people will recall visual images more easily, some will recall musical sounds,while others are more "touchy-feely". The legendary deaf-blind woman, Helen Keller was an extraordinary example of a touchy-feely type, who taught herself to speak by touching the larynx of a speaking person.

The Alpha State

If asking nicely was not enough to obtain the answer you need, try a practice from the Silva Mind Method.

Close your eyes and count slowly backwards from ten. When you reach one, you will be in what is known as the Alpha state. Stay there until you have the information, then count back up to ten to bring yourself back to your normal consciousness.

In fact, you will find that regular practice of any kind of meditation should prove helpful in improving your memory.

Memory Men

If you need to remember something like a phone number, you can take advice from professional memorizers. These men, they often seem to be men, have phenomenal memory power, which they use to earn a living onstage or in contests. Perhaps because they are men, they tend to favor visual imagery in the techniques they have developed for memorizing things. They often advise people to visualize the thing they wish to remember in an outlandish situation, which helps to recall it to mind later. Conversely, improving one's memory should also have the effect of improving one's visual functioning.

Women tend to be more verbally inclined than men, so, if you are a woman, rather than try to visualize your subject, try putting it into something like a little nursery rhyme, that will help you recall it.

Remember in advance

There is no doubt that you will more easily remember something, if you have remembered beforehand that you will need to recall it later! Therefore, practise what I call "remembering in advance". Think ahead a little bit. Plan your day. If you make an advance note that you are likely to need a certain piece of information later in the day or later in the week, you are more likely to remember it when you need it. Or, go all the way and write it in a "to do" list!


Readers have pointed out that it can be difficult to remember to make out a list. I think the difficulty is in finding the time to make a list. Certainly, during the day it is difficult to set aside time for this, so use the time that is usually wasted, standing in the supermarket line, for instance. Always carry a pen and make a list on anything; your till receipt , for instance. If you can only make your list mentally, use alphabetical and chronological order as you list things, as this will make it easier to retrieve the items from your memory later.


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