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E) Educate the thinking

It is possible, however, in adulthood, to do a work on oneself to evacuate everything stored on a pathological or inadequate way, in our subconscious memory, and which can disturb our conscious memory.

In that sense, we would have a much greater power than we imagine, to avoid dementia :

1) The state of physical health

First of all, the quality of our health is the first asset that stimulates the quality of our mental health. This is known : the quality of lifestyle allows to live longer : diet, sleep and physical exercise are the three pillars that should not be neglected. The absence of perpetual intense and repeated stresses could be considered a fourth.

2) Make the memory work

It is the most obvious point, but not necessarily the most essential. For the impairment of memory is the symptom, and it is mainly on the causes that has to be worked.

It's important however not to confuse stress effects or emotional shocks on the memory.

First of all, stress can interfere with attention (on a sustainable way in the burn out as we already have seen).
When we think at too many things at once (such as it happens during stress situations) and we are not really aware of it, it becomes difficult to manage the different levels of thinking so as to give the priority to one of them and to be able to calm the other flows of thoughts. It can happen easily that we are invaded by a kind of mix of thoughts that, without being managed, if they are too abundant, lead to confusion, distraction, oversights, lack of understanding of the emotions that those thoughts are generating, concentration difficulties, and eventually, to concern in front of those disabilities, etc. This situation can create quickly a snowball effect if we get aware of it because it is of course worrying. And it can harm in the long run by dint of repetition. Yet, putting the mental too much at work will, a priori, not stimulate the degeneration of the brain.

In the same way, strong emotions and emotional shocks can force the mental to work in a nagging way on the same thoughts, related to the memories of a traumatic or problematic event. This can also create the same kind of symptoms : confusion, oversights, distraction, concentration problem, and of course, the associated anxieties that will accumulate with the emotions already present. This is due to the omnipresence of the reminiscences of the traumatic event which prevents the other mental functions from working correctly, and more specifically, which will facilitate associations between the traumatic event and other events or particularities of memorized events, so that thoughts of the person affected by a trauma are almost continuously marked by aspects of the traumatic event. The repetition of the phenomenon can harm in the long term, but when it's possible to heal it, it doesn't have any impact on the degeneration of the brain. The healing occurs when one can dissociate the traumatic event from the rest of the mental functioning, and that in addition one relieves it of its emotional aspect (as for example with EMDR).

Memory can be compared to a muscle function. It needs work in order to get stronger, and it has to be maintained all life long, and even more and more with aging.

There are two main memory functions: recording and recalling. The presence of the attention is necessary for the recording of data in the memory, but beyond this recording, the recalling of the memory is only possible if we are able to make associations between different recorded elements. The recording of one brings back the other.

Training the memory consists then of two aspects. The attention, the presence, the concentration, the awareness are the first pillar.

The association work is the second pillar. It can be trained also like a muscle. If you are searching the name of a fruit, the name of a person, the name of a profession, no matter the category; the more you get used to recall names from categories, the easier you will find back other names in those same categories, but also in any other registers.

When you realize that you tend to forget, or rather, not recall names, then strengthen your memory muscle. Search, search, more, again at every opportunity.
This work won't give many results if you are in a period of stress, of mourning, of exhaustion, strong preoccupation, important anxiety.
Manage those problems first. But in a relatively serene situation, the work of strengthening memory consists much less in recording new items than in recalling older items. The more you are able to recall all kinds of items from your memories, the easier it will be to recall those deeper buried. For, doing this, you are reactivating the neurons that create associations in the brain, and the more they are reactivated, the greater your memory will be. Being able to recall 10 names of actors, could lead you to become able to recall 100 of them.
So, whenever possible, try to find back names that are not recalled easily, without limiting yourself at noticing that you have forgotten and at giving up. Be demanding with your memory and it will answer you better and better.


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