Improve Your Memory

(From the preface of: What The F*** Did I Do With My Keys – What our brains are really telling us when we forget things., London, 2009)

What about that memory of your Dad, when he used to tell you you were stupid and how worthless it made you feel  Years after the event you’re still feeling it and, in your lower moments, blaming it for holding you back from pursuing your dreams or actually believing that you deserve success.

What about the memory of your first great love when they waltzed off with someone better looking? Or the parent who walked out leaving you with the psycho one, and all the hurt that went with it?  Could that memory, that embedded fear, have anything to do with why, now, you seem to bugger up all your relationships before anyone gets a chance to get too close?

Or, what about those happy childhood memories of carefree roaming, endless summers and Enid Blyton?  What happened when you grew up and real life turned out not to be full of magic, adventure and cream teas but stress, monotony and utter shit?  Is there possibly some connection between your nostalgic memories and the disappointment, the resentment, that you won’t admit to but still drives you to infantalise yourself with Harry Potter, Friends Reunited or pretending that you’re ‘mates’ with your own kids?

Maybe you find yourself inexplicably clinging on to relationships long past their sell-by date or in terror of asking your boss for a raise or relying on the blissful oblivion of drink or drugs – but if you ever get the sensation that there is something irrational holding you back in life it is, usually, something from your past that is doing it.

But the past isn’t really there, it doesn’t exist, it’s not another country, it is just one thing: a memory.

It seems incredible that the current ‘brain training’ racket, which seems almost to solely exist to justify the sales of hand-held gaming consoles to adults who should know better, is based on such a trivial gain.  Being able to remember faces, or shopping lists, or the capital of Lithuania is, no doubt, helpful but it is nothing that the possession of a pen and piece of paper couldn’t do equally well.  On the other hand, we all have troubling and intangible things in our heads which, if we could only completely forget them, we could really improve the quality of our memories.

So many of us believe that we’ve buried our painful pasts but, with no knowledge of how to forget effectively, we’ve usually just stored their sleeping shadows in the deepest recesses of our minds, ready to surface again when they will be least helpful. –  The field of psychiatry is almost entirely based on the tyranny of inexpertly buried childhood memories rising from the grave, like zombies, to menace us in later life.

In this book I aim to give you the right spade and the best plot, so that you can bury your own, no longer relevant or needed, zombie memories – to forget them completely, effectively and once and for all.


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