Did you know that your brain cannot tell the difference between past and present emotions? I didn’t! But now that I do, I’ve been able to use this information to manifest positive emotions throughout my days!
This idea makes sense and I’m sure you have experienced it to a certain extent. Have you ever remembered a sad time in your life and then, once you started thinking about it, you became sad and maybe even started crying at that present moment? Have you ever been talking with a friend about a situation that made you angry and realized that your blood was pumping faster, your face started flushing, and you became just as angry about the situation at that moment as you were when it happened (even though you thought you were over it).
These things happen to me all of the time! When we recall a memory, we also recall the emotions that are attached to that memory and because our brains cannot differentiate the past emotions from the present, you start to feel the emotions that are connected to that memory. This can be upsetting when it comes to negative memories but we can also use this to our advantage.
Now that I am aware of how my memories can affect my present emotions, I have been able to use positive memories to improve my present state of mind! Here are a few examples of how I use this theory:
I focus on positive memories to increase my happiness levels:
I’m not always a happy person. Like everyone, I sometimes become sad or upset and other times I just feel down even if there seems to be no reason for me to be sad. Now, when I notice that I am not in the best mood, I deliberately think about a time that I was really happy. For example, I will think about the last time I was home visiting my family, the last time I was hanging out with my friends, or memories from beach vacations. When I think about these memories, I instantly become happier because I feel the same emotions that I felt when the memories actually took place.
I recall times when I was brave to give myself courage:
I also use this technique to find courage when I am nervous about a situation. I have done this for a long time without even realizing it! For example, I used to perform in dance shows since I was 5 years old. Even though I had been on stage so many times in the past, each time I had a show I would still get stage-fright just before I went on. To cope with this, I would think about a really good performance and that would give me the courage to go out and not be afraid anymore.
Now, I am able to recall past accomplishments to give myself the courage to face the present situation. When I am afraid to travel alone, I remember the time when I studied in Japan for 3 weeks and was able to navigate the public transportation system on my own every day. When I am nervous about introducing myself to new people, I recall memories of times where I stepped out of my comfort zone and was able to make a new friend!
I think of good memories of people when I become angry with them:
In the same way that you become angry when you recall memories of past fights, you can also calm your anger by recalling positive memories of the person that you are currently angry with. This is the one that I struggle with the most because when I am upset with someone, it can be extremely difficult to remember the positive experiences that you have had with that person. However, when I am able to successfully recall positive memories of someone that I am angry with, I am able to calm my emotions to the point where I can have a rational conversation with them.
Chances are, you have probably experienced this phenomenon without even realizing it. Now that you know, you can start using your positive memories to influence your present emotions and create more happiness throughout your days! I would encourage you to start practicing this in your daily routine. When you wake up, think of a positive memory so that you can start your day in a good mood. As you become better at using your memories to change your emotions, try using them to give yourself more courage and to even calm your emotions when you find yourself in a heated discussion.
This will take practice but the more you use it, the better you will become. I have been able to improve my mood so many times by simply recalling a time that I felt happy and I know that you can too!
Is there a time that you have had your memories affect your present emotions without you even realizing it?
Mindset & Habit Coach