Mentally Healthy Memories- 2

Previously, I reiterated the need to create mentally healthy memories.
If we all make the creation of mentally healthy memories a priority, we will reduce the risk of a lot of psychological or behavioral problems.

When do we start the creation of mentally healthy memories?

According to an English philosopher and physician John Locke, every child is born with a mind that is as clean as a blank slate. The newborn comes into the world with basic instincts that are inherently programmed to enhance survival. Exploring the immediate environment begins instantaneously. The child begins to write on the “clean slate” of his/her mind.
Experiencing the world with all it has to offer begins with the mother-child interaction. This interaction is extended to significant others in contact with the little one. The interactions are stored in the mind of the baby as memories, while the memories become the building blocks for the child’s mental state. The memory bank is continually processed to accommodate more memories and interpret previous memories that can either be discarded (forgotten) or modified by interpretations of current realities. These give way to the formation of the child’s temperament and eventually; the personality of the individual as he/she grows older.

A child can learn from what he/she sees or encounters. Previously acquired memory can be modified by new experiences, giving way to new knowledge and subsequent behavior as expatiated by one of the theories of learning; the social learning theory. According to Albert Bandura a Canadian-American Psychologist, the social learning/social cognitive theory states that “new behaviors can be acquired by observing and imitating others”. Specifically, children learn by observing people around them and could model their behavior after persons or situations they are exposed to. It is proper to ensure that these children are allowed to have interactions with the right people and learn from appropriate sources in a controlled environment.

For instance, children who are exposed to aggression or violence tend to keep the memories for these events. Some adults live with memories of the pain and/or rejection they had experienced during their childhood. These adversely affect how they interact with others or the relationships they keep in adulthood. I have come across adults who have depression or anxiety disorders and the only clear risk factor seems to be memories from their relationship with their parents or other significant persons in their life.

We need to ensure that our children are kept safe from traumatic events that can leave a long-term indelible mark on their psyche. The source of these memories could be parents, family, and friends”, school, the internet, TV, etc. The memories for abuse (physical, emotional, neglect, sexual, etc.) are not mentally healthy. This is because any recall of such incidents will always provoke negative emotions or triggers of psychological distress.

The best thing to do is to start creating mentally healthy memories from childhood!

It is also never too late to start!!

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Ola Ibigbami

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