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By William DeFoore, Ph.D
You came into this world with a brilliant mind. It is standard equipment in the human organism. The question is, how well are you using it? The more positive thoughts and feelings you have about your mind, the better it will work for you.
And the most important thing you can do for your memory is to believe in it. You can accomplish this primarily by making only positive statements about your memory and your mind. This means you will have to dispel some current and very strong negative myths about memory and aging.
Don't Buy The Program
How often do you hear (or say) something like, "My memory is not what it used to be," "I'm having a senior moment," or "I don't remember, I must be getting old." These and similar statements are made when someone is having trouble recalling a specific name or piece of information. Yet there are many very good reasons for that, which have nothing to do with getting older or becoming a "senior."
In contrast to the above, how often do you say (or hear) statements like, "I have an excellent memory," "My mind is getting sharper everyday," or "My memory works very well for me." I find it odd that these kinds of positive statements are a little embarrassing and perhaps feel a little socially inappropriate, while the negative and self-deprecating statements are very likely to bring a knowing laugh from listeners.
To improve your memory, you're going to have to break some rules and risk being different. If you want to "fit in," you'll have to join in the popular game of being negative about your memory. However, if it's too embarrassing or socially awkward to be positive about yourself, you probably won't do it. So what you need are some skills you can begin practicing right now to make your mind work extremely well for you.
The Best And Most Important Memory Skill
When you don't remember something, simply say, "It will come to me." If you're alone, you can say it to yourself, either silently or out loud. When you're around other people, you might add, "It's not coming to me right now. It will come to me." Variations would be, "I'll get it in a minute," or "I'll recall that soon."
Forgetting is not permanent. It is simply temporary blocking to what you're trying to remember. It happens when you're tired, stressed, distracted, or just have a lot on your mind. It seems to happen more as we get older, but that's simply because the longer we live, the more information there is to sort through.
You can keep those memory blocks in place by saying things like, "I forgot." "I can't remember." "I can't believe I don't remember that." "What is wrong with my memory?" or "I must be losing my memory." All of these statements send a message to your subconscious mind to keep the memory blocks in place. When you say, "It will come to me," you are telling your subconscious mind to access the information and give it to you.
Then you have to "get out of the way," meaning you have to shift your focus to something else. After saying "It will come to me," continue the conversation or make a relaxed change of subject. The more relaxed and at ease you are, the more quickly you will access the information you were trying to recall.
Imagine for a moment that everything that has ever happened to you is stored in a large room in the back of your mind. This is your memory bank. Now imagine that there is a friendly, cooperative little guy sitting at a desk at the door to the large room. He is listening to everything you think and say about your memory and your mind. When you say, "It will come to me," he jumps up and quickly retrieves the information you are trying to remember. When you say, "I can't remember," "I forgot," or "I'm having a senior moment" he takes a nap and keeps the door closed to the room with all of the information.
If you decide that you have a brilliant mind and a fantastic memory, he starts working out every day and getting in really good shape. That way when you need information he can sprint at light speed to access it for you.
If you don't remember someone's name, just smile to yourself and say, "It will come to me," and focus on something else. If it doesn't come to you in time, and you're on the spot to make an introduction, just smile and say, "Please tell me your name again," with no apologies. Most people will be very gracious in these situations. The more natural and easy you are with all of this, the better you will feel and the better your memory will work for you.
When you're preparing to attend a social event or business meeting, just picture yourself having a really good time. Look forward to the event, with the expectation that you will be comfortable socially and remember the names you need to. This will prevent your negative "fear mind" from predicting an awkward or anxious time.
Keep in mind that you are in the same boat as everyone else. Everyone deals with the challenge of remembering names at some time or another. By practicing Goodfinding skills of looking for the good in your mind and memory, you will set yourself apart from the crowd and develop a fabulous memory!
After someone tells you their name, repeat it back to them several times and you'll have it forever. You might also look at their face and say their name silently in your mind a few times to lock it into your memory.
And above all, have fun with all of this!
Losing Your Train Of Thought
Nobody likes it when this happens. And yet it happens to everyone. When this happens to you, just go on to something else. You may or may not need to say, "I lost my train of thought." When you say that, it is usually awkward for you and the other person(s), and serves no useful purpose. Simply talking about something else related the subject you were discussing will usually do the trick. Either you will get back to that "train of thought" or you won't, and it won't matter.
Nothing is worth getting upset over. When you lose your train of thought, you only make things worse by getting frustrated and stopping the conversation while you try to remember. And, it might make the other person feel uncomfortable. Even a joking comment like, "Well, that thought is gone!" and then going on to another subject keeps the feelings light and comfortable for everyone. And, this will light, playful attitude make it more likely that you will remember what you need to.
Consider also that sometimes you actually lose your train of thought because you were going down a path in the conversation that would be unpleasant or inappropriate for you or the other person. In such cases, just let it drop. Many times the other person is more than willing to pick up the conversation at this point and take it in a new direction.
You are a lot wiser than you think you are. Trust your mind and your memory, and they will just get better and better. Never, ever say anything negative about your mind, memory or age and you won't be "joining the crowd" that is laughing all the way to senility. It just isn't necessary.
Age Well, Age Elegantly, Age With Grace
Aging is living. Everybody does it, so we might as well learn to feel good about it. Memory loss with aging is simply not the inevitable problem that most people think it is. Through practice and positive thinking, you can keep your mind active and alert, and your memory functioning very well. Here are some positive statements to say to yourself about yourself:
-I love life
-I am aging magnificently
-I have an excellent memory
-I love using my mind
-My mind is brilliant
-I remember exactly what I need to remember when I need to remember it
-Anything I need to know will come to me
-I can count on my mind to provide me with the information I need
-The more I use my mind the better it will work for me
-I appreciate my mind and how well it works for me
-I choose to have positive thoughts about my mind and body
-I choose to have positive thoughts about aging and the entire life process
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