How we live—how we are—often depends, in large part, on our past experiences and the implicit memories they’ve created. These memories dwell not in the conscious mind, but just beneath, in the shadows. They influence everything we do.
Growing up, we developed beliefs and attitudes about ourselves, others, the world, and the “right” ways to do things. Family, religion, school, culture, and experiences contributed to these mindsets. This information, stored in the subconscious, may shape our perceptions and guide our behavior.
Implicit memory has value: it allows us to ride a bicycle, tie our shoes, and know the words to our favorite songs without needing to re-remember each time we perform these tasks.
But subconscious memories can have negative effects, too. They may lead us to act in ways we don’t understand. They may cause anger or depression.
HOW IMPLICIT MEMORY WORKS
Implicit memories are hugely influential in making you “you.” They largely determine your personality, behaviors, and relationship, social, and emotional styles.
Imagine viewing the world through colored glasses without realizing you’re wearing them. You would believe the world is green, or blue, or gray, because it’s what you’ve always known. In the same manner, subconscious memories and beliefs can tint every experience you have. They may shape your experiences and interactions to your detriment.
All is not lost, however. You can remove the glasses.
When an implicit memory rises to the surface, we feel emotions, often in our bodies: a tightness in the throat, or a heaviness in the pit of the stomach. Cueing into these sensations can help us to change unwanted patterns and avoid poor choices and behaviors.
You can take control of your life by becoming aware of your thought patterns and core beliefs, especially recurrent ones. Notice which ones support you and which hold you back.
TAKING CONSCIOUS CONTROL
Once you are aware of limiting beliefs, you can consciously choose to challenge and change them. This articlelists five steps:
- Identify your core subconscious beliefs by taking an honest look at your predominant patterns.
- Identify the perceived purposes or positive intentions of the beliefs underlying these patterns.
- Feel and release emotions related to these beliefs.
- Identify ways to meet the positive intentions.
- Identify healthier beliefs and actions, and practice them, instead.
“In each of us there is another whom we do not know,” the noted psychologist Carl Jung said. Putting it another way, the rock band Pink Floyd sang, “There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.” Is it time to truly get to know ourselves for fuller, happier, healthier lives?