Why do we need memories


He calls himself the “interpreter of memories”: there are several thousand of them in Patrick Estrada’s collection, and he has been studying them for more than twenty years. Memories are a mold of our personality, proof that our existence is unique, he says. These are our footholds in the past.

They bear the imprint of our individuality, reveal what is peculiar to us: how we live, what we are afraid of, what kind of relationship we have with others. They reflect our lifestyle and talents. In Memories That Lead Us, Patrick Estrade outlines his theory of memories.

They influence our destiny

“We are so used to looking into the distance that we forget that we are very close. Memories seem so natural and ordinary. Working as a psychotherapist helped me to take a closer look at them, and I came to the conclusion that they are priceless treasures that we use little.

Even among memory specialists, few are those who study memories. Perhaps because we do not understand their meaning and do not realize what kind of power they have. Memories are the foundation, the soil on which we walk throughout life. They influence our choices and destiny, and in a sense they control us.

One of my clients lived with the feeling that he had lost his bearings. It turned out that his memory retained childhood memories of numerous family moves. It was they who helped me find the image of his experience: he ceased to understand where he was …

But memories can also interfere with personal development – this happened to another client: as a child, his father constantly made fun of him, the memory of this helped to determine why, becoming an adult, the son can not complete any business he has begun.

They are the barometer of our emotions

“We remember this or that event not because we think about the past, but because now we are experiencing the same emotions. Memories are a barometer of the inner psychological state. A sad mood will evoke sad memories, a feeling of anxiety will make you remember the anxiety experienced.

One of the clients has repeatedly said that she is not able to make a choice. By chance, she remembered how, year after year, her mother forced her to go to the “hated” summer camp … Everyone has life leitmotifs like: “Nobody understands me” or “I never do what I want”, and the reason each of them is hidden in memories.

Those who claim that they have no memories are mistaken: the forgotten is not lost, it is stored in the depths of the brain.

They are imprinted in memory thanks to the power of the emotions accompanying this event, but much depends on whether we were able to give them meaning. Everything that we experience, from a fleeting impression to intense grief, is recorded on the “hard disk” of our memory, like on an LP.

One woman told how a schoolgirl in the lesson felt great joy when she saw her mother in the window (the girl was sure that her mother was away). The power of this emotion is forever engraved in her memory. “

They are always ready to pop into memory

“Those who claim that they have no memories are mistaken: the forgotten is not lost, it is stored in the depths of the brain. Memories are somewhat similar to fish: some swim close to the surface, and they are perfectly visible, while others are kept at a depth. We do not see them, but this does not mean that they do not exist: they are ready to surface and sooner or later will surely rise to the surface.

The unconscious has a well-functioning system that raises up only those memories that we need today to develop, and only those that we can cope with when we meet face to face.

I see this every day during therapy. For example, one client experienced incest, but does not remember anything about it. Care is needed here: do not break open the door leading to memories. Since they do not reveal themselves to us, it means that we are not yet ready for them. “

Why do we need memories

They come to set us free

“How wonderful it is when new memories arise in the memory, like letters that have been in the mail for too long, waiting for the addressee. This is a sign that by now we are ripe to perceive them.

This was the case with a client who remembered only bad things about his father. The moment he met his love, bright memories of his father began to surface in his memory. More than once I have seen tears in their eyes when new memories began to appear in their memory. It was like a sunrise when the fog clears and a new landscape opens up in front of you. This is real finding yourself.

It is important to “turn bad memories into words” and “hide” somewhere. Sometimes I ask clients to write them down on paper, put them in an envelope and put them away. If someone has experienced a painful event and has not told anyone about it, I would like that person to have the opportunity to get rid of bad memories.

But good memories need to be cherished and cherished. They fill our entire being, nourish us, excite us, sometimes do not even let us fall asleep, and then “sink to the bottom”. These are the reservoirs where our happiness is stored. “

They change our attitude towards the past

“A memory never comes just like that, without any purpose. It is like an unfinished story. In the book, I talk about a childhood memory that came to me when I was writing it.

I loved playing with the tin soldiers and I remember that this game gave a feeling of power and victory, but I paid for it with a feeling of loneliness. This recollection already spoke of the actual feeling of power and victory that I experienced when I wrote. At the same time, it made me realize my loneliness. But this time I decided to act differently than in the past: I began to pay more attention to relationships with friends and acquaintances, I tried to strengthen them.

Memories help to better understand the present, return our own past and continue our history, they enrich and saturate our personality. Going out in search of memories is like doing a general cleaning of your house. You wipe the dust, get rid of unnecessary things – and sometimes you suddenly stumble upon a long-lost thing. Latent energy lurks in newfound memories. You just need to learn to accept them and give them meaning. “

How to handle them?

Cultivate the good. Good memories are “the garden of our memory,” explains Patrick Estrade. And since this is so, “you need to keep them alive, just as flowers need to be watered. So, for example, you can have memories with friends or renew relationships with school and college friends. Also, take the time and look through the photo albums. “

Give the bad ones. Don’t try to get rid of even the most painful, painful, difficult, or disturbing memories. Do not supplant them and do not try to forget: this will mean that you are denying, crossing out a part of yourself. Try to express them … and put them off. Write them on a piece of paper and ask someone close to take them for safekeeping.

Patrick Estrade

About the expert

Patrick Estrade – specialist in analytical psychology, teacher, writer. Author of the book “Memories that lead us” (“Ces souvenirs quinous gouvernent”, Robert Laffont, 2006).

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