As we live and interact with others, we continually acquire knowledge about people.
We also get to know more about who we are; our likes, our dislikes, our interests, what turns us “on” or “off”. As we visit places or get information about places and events, we tend to increase our knowledge and enhance our overall capabilities to reason and comprehend the information we acquire from time to time. All these are stored in our memories.
What is thinking?
The process of thinking is the goal-directed arousal of symbols, objects, images, concepts and percepts within the mind. Material(s) within our thoughts mostly come from our memories. The process of thinking involves the sequential mental exploration of the material by current realities and future expectations.
This exploration is expected to achieve results or a given goal. For instance, while driving along a road, a young man comes across a tree fallen across the road. This event triggers off a goal-directed thought process. The goal is to still get to work while considering how to overcome the obstacle of the tree fallen across the road. He begins to reflect on the available options by accessing his memory bank for information on alternative routes and possible modalities of getting reaching his goal in spite of the limitation.
While it is healthy to forget things, it is not so good to be too forgetful. Specifically, our past experiences (which have been stored in our mind and can be recalled at will; from time to time) can critically influence our present mental state (mood, behavior and thought process). That is why we must learn how to “purposefully” and “deliberately” build mentally healthy memories for ourselves, our family and others with whom we engage in our day-to-day living.
What is a mentally healthy memory?
A mentally healthy memory is the memory for an event or experience which enhances wellbeing, hope and positive mental health towards achieving goals. The recall of a mentally healthy memory motivates the individual and relieves distress, anxiety and other negative emotions. When you recall a mentally healthy memory, it makes you feel good and confident about yourself, your abilities and your potentials. When you are undergoing any form of negative emotion, a recall of a mentally healthy memory can completely reverse the distress.
Individuals who have major mental illnesses tend to have problems with their memory. The problem isn’t mainly about forgetfulness. It is mostly about distortions of their memories which could include, creating false memories or their wrong interpretations of normal memories. Children and adolescents develop their temperaments and eventual personality by the experiences and the memories they create as they explore the world. When we allow our children to be exposed to adverse childhood experiences or traumatic events, it creates negative memories for them. These could be the factor that increases the likelihood of the individual coming down with a mental illness.
We need to create mentally healthy memories for ourselves. We need to start early in life. Nurturing a baby with love and care lays the foundation or the building blocks for a mentally stable child and eventual adult. Parents must make a conscious effort of protecting their children from being exposed to witnessing distressing or anxiety-provoking events. When children are exposed to these events, they tend to store the mental image. These are eventually recalled from time to time with the attendant distress or anxiety. Similarly, adults who have had previous distressing experiences will always have their life influenced by the memories they have of the past.
To be continued……………………