The Surprising Benefits of Forgetting

The Surprising Benefits of Forgetting
Like living forever, remembering everything can be fraught with a dark side. The inability to forget can be conceptualized in the same way as the inability to sleep. In fact, forgetting and sleeping are powerfully linked. While some memories are forged during sleep, others are deleted, the ones which are not so important or particularly useful any more. Perhaps, we get to choose what we remember if we are lucky.

Over time synapses get weakened; the firing pattern of neurons change, and new neurons in the brain move on to forge new memories. ¡§We¡¦re inundated with so much information every day, and much of that information is turned into memories in the brain,¡¨ said Ronald Davis, a neurobiologist at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla. ¡§We simply cannot deal with all of it.¡¨ Theorists claim that there is an art to forgetting metaphorically speaking. Forgetfulness can lead to greater creativity by releasing the imagination from the bonds of rigid recall.

When I studied geometry in high school, and couldn¡¦t memorize a single proof, I was forced to derive each proof using logic. It all boils down to different mindsets and educational styles: learning by rote, or learning through understanding and derivation. Each learning style has its place as simple as memorizing multiplication tables and human anatomy, or analyzing a literary work and subconscious mind. One might be able to recall historical facts perfectly, but unable to draw comparisons and conclusions. Another who can¡¦t recall some of the specific details comprehends the essence of that time period and culture, even able to draw imaginative analogies to another era. When recall and analysis hang in solid balance, new thoughts and great invention are born.

How to forget:

  • Learning to forget is invaluable in trying to move on past trauma, grief, loss, anger and shame. How to forget these bad, stress-filled memories? Indelible, awful memories can be reframed with kinder interpretations, or even given a fairytale ending. So, instead of forgetting, you are remembering differently and creating a new memory out of the old facts. This technique makes room for better future experiences, releasing those stuck in the past with the capacity to move on.
  • Deleting old files makes room for new ones. You have more brain neurons receptive to learning new skills for self-actualization. Updating and learning makes you relevant. So give your attention to what you need to remember.
  • Forgetting is like going on a vacation where you can forget workplace stressors to focus on self-care and fun in order to come back better.

For more information on managing your stress and reclaiming your life read my book, Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show

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