Re: Why we require poor memories to survive

I did some reading this morning on last night’s musings. I always find the School of Life’s content to be grounding.

Nietzsche was approaching a radical but properly constructive question: what’s the point of thinking about the past? His answer was precise: we should remember only in so far as it actually helps us to live in the present. To the extent that memories assist us in forming our plans and avoiding error, they are valuable, but when memories function as obstacles to better lives, we should put our energies into the business of forgetting.

Such is a common theme in Westworld. The “hosts” have their memories purged when reassigned or experience overly painful experiences. Issues begin to arise when the hosts start to remember their past lives, with the distinction that they have a perfect memory, unlike human’s fuzzy recollections of the past.

I’ve always found it interesting how memories are coded and recoded when remembering. Each read is a write; memories are tainted with our current mental states. Compounding the infidelities is our initial recording of the memory, we are forced to perceive life through our unique lenses, hopelessly unaware of the universes that exist within every person.

I believe that there should be a certain level of this awareness upon judging others, that not only are our perceptions and memories faulty but so are theirs. To attack and ridicule, encroaching upon another’s worldview is shortsighted, hateful, and emotionally immature.

Some people have such poor introspection that they require to burden other’s worldview with their own. They lash out and injure, as it’s the only way they know how to maintain their narrative, often hurting those that they intend to help in some way. Rationalizing and manipulating themselves to exist within their distorted view of reality.

To some extent, this is necessary to maintain our agency. The past is a story we tell ourselves and some things are too painful to accept at face value. This is a valuable tool when dealing with past trauma that cripples you in the present. Rewrite your narratives.

However, I believe that there should be a line somewhere when dealing with others. It’s insane to think that your worldview is the only truth in the world. To yourself? Surely. But such needs to be kept in mind when dealing with others. A mark of emotional maturity is to be able to separate your own emotion, at least to the extent needed to assess others objectively. To not encroach.

Which is interesting, as I’ve found that some will go so far as to project their own afflictions onto others. In some instances, the hallmark of the narcissist, the gaslighter, the manipulator is to claim others are doing such onto you. Which is hilarious, as this comment is recursive, isn’t it?

The trick is, or so I’m learning, is to be able to distill the core essence of previous experiences so that we may learn from them, but only so far as to not become crippled by them in the present. This is a behemoth undertaking, but one we should strive to achieve, if not for our deepest wounds.

Neural plasticity is a godsend. Our most deeply ingrained behaviors can be cast out, we are free, with enough time and effort, to reprogram our minds; to change the very neural structure of our brains.

Such is more of an art than a science. There is no recipe or how-to in achieving such undertakings, and such differs significantly per person. But I can share a few things that have worked for me.

  • While you may not have the ability to change what happens to you, it’s your responsibility to choose how we perceive such things. Any event, regardless of how joyful or callous rests on our shoulders to interpret. We are free to write a narrative of love, joy, hope and just as free to write a tale of depression, despair, anxiety. This is our choice, regardless of what extreme of circumstances we find ourselves in.
  • When dealing with anxiety, strive to thrust yourself further into discomfort, just past your breaking point, and have the tools to survive in that state until it becomes ordinary. Such is the only way to normalize irrational fears and train your brain that such situations are indeed safe. Such is difficult, extremely so as we are fighting our core instincts of survival, yet still possible over time, much time and effort.
  • Depression is often the body’s manifestation of discomfort. When we choose to perceive the world around us with a bleak lens for too long, we begin to change the structure of our brains into believing such to be true without question. This becomes recursive; we feed into this infinite loop to the point that it genuinely becomes a physical, mental affliction. Are there some that are predisposed to depression? In some cases, is it truly something that can’t be helped? I don’t know. I know that most often, people are unable, or unwilling to effect the lifestyle changes required to have a profound impact, trapped in a prison of their creation.
  • You must accept the fact that you are flawed to your core, that your perceptions of reality will never indeed be accurate, that you will make mistakes. This sounds terrible but is the key to humankind’s evolutionary success. Failing often and failing hard is paramount to real change. I would go so far as to wager that the mistake is often our most powerful tool to learn and to learn quickly. Or at least, I’ve always made my greatest strides when placing myself into an error-prone atmosphere.

I believe that the next topic I should focus on is Nietzsche’s teachings. That the past must be distilled into a series of lessons, while the pain is forgotten not to cripple us in the present. Additionally, I feel as if it’s foolhardy to manipulate oneself as a shortcut to this introspection intentionally. While more challenging, we should accept that we could very well be wrong, that we are not masters of our reality and indeed not others.

I’m struggling to find a balance in processing the events that transpired within the last two years. This too should come in time with more distance. Until then, strive to be kind to oneself, and others, always.