“One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” ― Rita Mae Brown

I love this quote so much I’ve used it again. Further to the previous article I wrote on memories – Are memories really real? How do they work?, I wanted to follow up on the idea that memories are not “real”, rather they are reconstructions of past events, recreated every time we try to recall the event. This means that memories are plastic. They are malleable, they can take different forms. And if you come to understand this, then you begin to realise that all of our memories – constructed every time we recall that past event, incident, trauma, moment, etc. – can be changed.

Yes, you can change your memories, as much as your memories can change you.

In fact, thinking about this, you begin to realise that everything we experience in life; the adverts on the TV; TV programmes themselves; movies; books; magazines; etc are stories that are designed to be imprinted on your sub-consciousness and then reborn within your own personal context.

Even in the work environment; stories and anecdotes abound; marketing plans are devised to inform the purchaser of the benefits of product X, or service Y. In the B2B [business-2-business] world, we even spend money and effort asking our customers to give references on the superiority of our products and services so that they can be used to sell those products and services to others.

So, stories and the way we capture, store and reference them in our memories is the glue that holds humans together in society, in work, in social situations and in personal relationships.

So, if memories are not fixed, but are reconstructed every time you come to access one, then it means that it is possible to adjust that memory – somewhat like how you adjust the pictures and sounds on the TV that you watch. You can change the contrast, picture depth perspective, colour tone, brightness, surround sound, type of bass, almost anything is possible. So to, it is possible to change your memories.

Now, the art of changing memories is vast and the techniques do different that I could write every day for the rest of my life and probably not cover every possible approach, However, I like to think of a framework that can help focus the approach you take. These are:

Self Help & Self-Talk: These are the guided self-help guides you can buy in the shops. Think of the Paul McKenna “I can make you rich / thin / stop smoking” style. These are there to help set up a set of stories in your subconscious and through habit change [I’ll talk about the power and harm of habits in a separate post].

Structure Help through counselling. There are a myriad different types of counselling. They generally fall into the following categories:

Cognitive and behavioural therapies:
Behavioural therapies are based on the way you think (cognitive) and/or the way you behave. These therapies recognise that it is possible to change or recondition, our thoughts or behaviour to overcome specific problems.
# Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
# Behavioural therapy
# Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT)
# Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies
Psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies are based on an individual’s unconscious thoughts and perceptions that have developed throughout their childhood, and how these affect their current behaviour and thoughts.
# Jungian therapy, Psychoanalysis, Psychoanalytic therapy and Psychodynamic therapy

Humanistic therapies:
Humanistic therapies focus on self-development, growth and responsibilities. They seek to help individuals recognise their strengths, creativity and choice in the ‘here and now’.
# Existential therapy
# Gestalt therapy
# Human Givens psychotherapy. I would love to do this programme, but would need to invest thousands of £’s, something I do not have.
# Person-centred therapy (also known as “client-centred” counselling)
# Psychosynthesis
# Reality therapy
# Solution-focused brief therapy
# Transactional analysis
# Transpersonal psychology

New and Developing therapies:
Although psychological therapies generally fall into the categories above, there are also a number of other specific therapies that are emerging.

# Equine assisted therapy – I have seen this in action and find it amazing.
# Integral Eye Movement Therapy (IEMT)
Family & Group therapy
Neuro Linguistic Programming

As you can see, there are many approaches that can be taken and I have trained and been certified in a number of them [those in bold & Italics]. Most of them take time and a significant investment in both the therapist and the client. Depending on the condition, this can be months or even years. There are benefits to a gentle approach to change work, but for some people, rapid change is what they are after.

One of best rapid change therapies is Integral Eye Movement Therapy or IEMT. The Integral Eye Movement Technique is a brief change work process that generates rapid change in the area of undesired emotional and identity imprints. The process and algorithms of the technique answers the question, “How did the client learn to feel this way, about that thing?” and applies specific change at the right place within the client’s model of the world.

By building resources inside the problem state, IEMT brings the client more into the present and enables the client to stay out of past negative experiences permanently.

You can literally change memories in one session. The memory generally needs to be time and event bound – say a car accident, orr any other type of single event trauma. So if you have a trauma that you need to resolve quickly, then this is the one for you.

BTW, my IEMT profile is below:


As always, I leave you with this quote…..

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” ― Mark Twain


“Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before.” ― Steven Wright

Working with teenagers is always a challenge, especially if you are trying to help and support them through their own growing pains. I don’t want to use the word, counselling directly in this context, rather, I would use the word “nurturing”. Nurture in the sense, that when a teen comes to me for support, advice, guidance or just to shout / cry / scream at me, I tend to feel that I am nurturing them to grow and develop and come to recognise their strengths and their own capabilities.Anyway, one of the teens in my world sat down with me and we were discussing some of the challenges she faces in her life. This involves engagement and acceptance by her mother, always a difficult subject to discuss without too many of the emotions coming to the fore.Obviously, I could have dived into her memories and perceptions of the issues; getting her to describe the scenarios and situations; the reactions she faced and how she dealt with them. This would then become a point by point discussion.Instead, I did not want to get into what are called the “why’s and wherefores” of the relationship. Rather, I wanted to get her to reflect on what occurred and relative positioning of her and her mother.So, using some props [different coloured blocks that were to hand] I asked her to imagine herself standing in front of her mother having a dialogue on a recent issue. Then I asked her to step outside of herself and imagine looking at herself; having the dialogue and reflecting on the tone of voice she was using; the facial expressions she was using; her body position; the angle of her head; how she was using & not using her hands to amplify the conversational points. In effect a 2nd position. For each element, I wanted her to think about how she was positioning herself in relation to her mother and the reaction that she was eliciting from her mother.Then I got her, to step behind her mother as if she was looking through her mother. In effect, in 3rd position. Now I got her to think about how her mother was acting – the tone of voice she was using; the facial expressions she was using; her body position; the angle of her head; how she was using & not using her hands to amplify the conversational points. For each element, I wanted her to think about how she was positioning herself in relation to her daughter and the reaction that she was eliciting.You could see the reactions crossing her face as she elicited the various states. It was fascinating and very gratifying to see her work through some of the issues.We then moved onto her memories of previous situations and how they had impacted the relationship she had with her mother. And this is where is got weird, but positive weird. As she started to think about some of the early life memories, there were confusing and contradictory movements of her eyes and her posture kept shifting, almost as if there was confusion and potential conflict which she was re-living.I asked her what the issue was and her answer was, “I am not sure the memories are all mine?”I have read and researched memories and the research suggests that there is a good chance that at least a few of your childhood “memories never actually happened!”. You might think you remember your 3rd birthday party, when what you really remember are the pictures, or you might believe you have a very vivid memory from primary school that in reality happened to your brother or your best friend that you shared everything with, including in that case, a memory.So why does this happen? Why do our brains seem to be so susceptible to false childhood memories?Elizabeth Loftus, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Irvine, has done extensive research on the malleability of memory, particularly in children and false memories from childhood. “We pick up information from all sorts of places and times and use it to ‘create’ our memories,”. Loftus is the author of a well-known study from the mid-1990s in which she successfully “implanted” a false memory in college students about a time they got lost in a shopping mall as a child, even though they never had (Loftus and her colleagues checked with the students’ families). But simply by asking leading questions about the supposed memory, the researchers got several students to tell them that it had really happened. And the false memory doesn’t even have to be very realistic; in a later study, Loftus and her colleagues were able to successfully implant false memories in college students of going to Disneyland as children and meeting Bugs Bunny — which is not even a Disney character.So I asked the girl, to “Reflect, Remember and Recall” as much as possible the 4 or 5 points to the particular memory that was causing issues and to elicit whether if it was, in fact, real. It was not. She then said that it was, in fact, something that had happened to her brother.We then moved onto the idea that memories are not “real”, rather they are reconstructions of past events, recreated every time we try to recall the event. If you were to write the event down in as much detail as possible, then leave the memory alone for six months and try to recall it, it will, in fact, be different. That is why, in some respects, the decline in the use of personal diaries and people spending the time to pause, reflect and write down their recollections of the day and how they felt is such a loss to counselling and change work.We finished the session at that point and she went away with a much better understanding of the current situation she was in and how she could manage the dialogue with her mother in future. As they say, she had all the resources she needed to be able to deal with the situation. She just needed to pause, reflect and recognise them.For an interesting article on implanting false memories, got to:
http://exploringthemind.com/the-mind/are-your-memories-just-fakedAs always, I leave you with a quote.“The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe