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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Memory Games & Techniques for Maintaining Relationships During the Holidays

Last night I needed to take my own advice and adapted the A to ZZZZ Good-Night Game for myself.  Too many things going on right now and it's hard to fall asleep sometimes.  My version of this game is to begin with the letter "A" and think of people I have known whose name begins with that letter.  By the time I got to the middle of the alphabet, I began to feel a sense of calm.  My spontaneous journey back in time brought back memories from childhood to adulthood including places where I have lived, worked, traveled, and gone to school. Soon whatever worries I had were replaced by gratitude.  I have truly been blessed in spite of all the trials and challenges.

Sometimes I think about all the things I have yet to accomplish and don't give myself enough credit for the intriguing, awe inspiring things I have experienced.  Perhaps that's a first born symptom or just the way I was hard-wired from the moment of my conception.  Whatever the reason, I continually look for ways to accommodate the way my brain functions.  I'm sure I'm not alone in this dilemma.

Another fun activity to do is to look at the change in your pockets or purse once in a while.  When I hold a coin in my hands and look at the date, I immediately recall how old I was at that time, what I enjoyed doing, a special event, or a family trip.  (Like the one where our large family of eight traveled from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Minneapolis, Minnesota in a small Ford Escort - Luggage rack on top.)  These simple memory games are known as "anchoring" techniques. For more ideas regarding memory techniques refer to the link below. Perhaps you will be inspired to use some of these techniques when you gather with family and friends for the holidays.

Learning Inspirations - Monash University

If you do this activity with other family members, be prepared for some disagreement as to the actual facts of the memory.  Why does this happen?  The differences in remembering are the result of a few components:
  • Depends on the age of the individual at the time of the event. 
  • Life experiences at the time of the event can cause each person to "frame" the event the way they perceive the moment.
  • Each person has variations in their sensory awareness of surroundings.  One person may focus on visual details while another family member may recount aromas or a song that was playing on the radio - an auditory cue.
  • Some people "check out" when family chaos ensues - thus eliminating any chance of a negative memory. (Think of the person who falls asleep during times of stress.)
The best thing to do if you and a family member disagree on the details attached to the memory is to let it go and not argue.  Does it really matter who is "right" or who is the more accurate "family historian" ?  Just know that your memory is exactly that....YOUR Memory!  Be happy you have that very personal account.  Finding ways to keep memories alive is important.  Story telling, journaling, and pictures are great ways to bring back the experiences that help define who you are, what you have become, and where you still want to go in life.  Sometimes you may need to replace negative memories by creating new ones in the present. 

Thanksgiving is coming up soon.  Families and friends may reunite for this holiday time.  This is usually a perfect time to either renew relationships or regret gathering together.  Which one will you select?  Hopefully it will be a time to remember, repair, respond, and renew relationships.