Improve your memory by reframing

A lot of people try to remind themselves to remember something important by using a negative statement. They say something like, “I need to make sure I don’t forget this”.

Unfortunately, your subconscious mind simply doesn’t process or interpret the negative in this sentence. All it picks up is the command to “forget,” and then associates it with whatever important thing you’re trying remember! You’ve instantly made it much more likely that you won’t remember it.

The same principle is also true when you tell yourself ‘I won’t smoke from now on’, or ‘I can’t keep eating so much’. The idea of the ‘not’ command is something that has come out of language and rational thought. But the parts of our brain that are responsible for memory and habit are some of the evolutionary oldest parts, they existed in our ancestors long before language and other higher mental functions evolved. They simply do not have the ability to accommodate this idea of ‘not’ we use so freely.

There are two tricks you can use to help imbed the correct message in your subconscious, the first is more effective in the long run but feel free to pick whichever comes to you most easily:

1. Whenever you wish to use a command or suggestion, either to the world or to yourself, learn to express it positively. Rephrase it as a positive sentence. So instead of ‘I need to make sure I don’t forget this’, try ‘I need to make sure I remember this’.

2. If you want to communicate a negation in a brain-friendly way, build in plenty of strong associations to the thought that your subconscious mind will interpret as negative ideas. For example the colour red is often used to represent danger, so make the sentence red in your imagination. Or if you can visualise a feeling of being scared or in pain, do this while imprinting the idea on your mind.

 

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