Short-Term Memory Loss

Forgetting Things That Matter

I’m a big movie buff.  I love the feeling of looking at characters who are not me and letting them teach me something about me.  Some of my favourite movies are about amnesia; characters who have forgotten who they are, and are now on a quest to remember.  Total Recall, Memento, and Bourne Identity all have characters who are struggling to remember something life-changingly important.  In the more light-hearted movie, 50 First Dates, Drew Barrymore’s character, Lucy, has to play herself a video each morning to fill herself in on the entire contents of her life.  While these films seem a world away from our daily lives, how often do we wake up the next morning having forgotten something life-changingly important?  I’m not talking about things that an effective to-do list will remedy (like, have I remembered to buy a new shower head that will actually wash rather than dribble on me?) but revelations about what makes us happy.

What Was It That Made Me Feel This Good?

A nice moment happens every day – even to the least conscious of us.  No, let’s be more positive than that: a nice half an hour.  But what was it about that half an hour that actually put you in the state of mind where everything was okay?  Was it something you did, something you said to yourself, an inspired thought?  Perhaps that thought gave you such a great feeling that it didn’t just affect your next half an hour but the rest of your day.  By 8 o’clock, instead of using your last ounce of energy to push the buttons on the microwave, you’ve suddenly turned into a Jedi master.  The screwed-up piece of paper goes straight in the bin from an impossible angle and you catch a glass as it falls from the table.  More to the point, you have this incredible feeling of momentum and flow.  And then you go to sleep and let the amnesia set in.  You wake up, desperately searching for that same all-powerful feeling, but it’s gone.

Systems To Prevent Amnesia

What was it that gave me that feeling, you ask?  Your brain frantically searches its files but all it comes up with are the amazing moments that came after.  It then makes a plan to go after these moments, only to find that doing these things is not the source of its happiness and that it’s just trying to relive a memory – a moment that has now passed.  It seems you are back at square one.  But hang on a minute, what if next time you do things a little differently.  What if, like Lucy and all the characters in those awesome films, you look to find ways to manage your amnesia.  This is done by creating systems – like Lucy’s morning video – to help us remember.  A good coach will insist that you are always building up your own self-knowledge record.  Which thoughts leave me drained to the core and which ones lead me to an afternoon of flow?  All this needs recording and ritualising to prevent a life of short term memory loss – a life lived on repeat.