Using memories to change your state
This is the fifth article in my series about Managing How You Feel.
If you’ve read previous articles in the series, you may remember that your state can be influenced by the way you unconsciously filter information that you notice, by the way you represent experience to yourself internally, and by your physiology. None of this is necessarily conscious or chosen, but the good news is that there are many, many ways you can influence it and so change how you are feeling. That is what this series is about.
Today I’m focusing on an internal way of changing your state, by using memories.
Tip No 5 – Recall a time when…
Your bodymind has an amazing capacity to remember. It files memories away not only in date order, but also in linked chains of memories with similar emotions and that contain similar elements of experience, for example a common smell, or taste, or place.
Memories are not unified experiences. They are a network, with the pictures stored in one part of the brain, the smells somewhere else, the emotions somewhere else, the sensations in the place they were felt…you get the picture, they are a multi-sensory experience.
This is great news if you want to change how you feel. Try the following exercise to find out why:
1. Pick an emotion that you would like to feel just now, for example, confidence
2. Think of a time when you strongly felt just the kind of confidence you would like right now.
3. Close your eyes (after reading the instructions of course!) and then bring to mind exactly where you were. In your mind’s eye, see what you could see then and there, as if it were happening here and now.
4. Next notice what you can hear as you associate into this time, and any smells or tastes that are present.
5. As you do this, notice the physical sensations, and the emotions that are evoked.
When you fully associate into a memory, your body will respond as if it were happening now, because in your mind’s eye, it is! This is why you see athletes with their eyes closed before a race, immersing themselves in the state they most want right now.
When you need to feel confident, you can use your positive memory to help yourself. Why stop there? You can recall memories for as many helpful states as you need to, and put them to regular use. When you open the memory network through your internal representations, your physiology will oblige and bring forward the sensations that were happening then, changing your emotional state.