The past is a nice place to visit, but not a good place to stay. Past memories are a certain reflection of where we come from. Our minds are always running in a loop. This loop runs through the past, present, and future.
Our mind works in two different ways: the fast and the slow. The slower act of the mind is more detailed. By that, we always try to predict the future and check if the present matches with it. We only become aware of this process once our prediction goes wrong. Whereas, the faster action of the mind is abrupt and often based on judgments. It helps us judge a person in no time. We tend to be able to study their body language and can also judge our surroundings better.
The faster actions deal with smaller issues. And the slower system can tackle bigger problems.
The illusions we get are often derived from the lapses that occur in the faster system of the mind. It is quite possible to experience many.
Here are 6 distinct ways past memories become illusions
1. The Fluency Effect
When one item influences the awareness of others, a priming effect takes place. We have a tendency to predict things based on what has happened before. So it all depends on the information we feed in our memories. If it is fluent and transparent, its easier to register. But if we face trouble processing all the information, we tend to ruin it.
And how do we do it?
We end up picking false information. Since there is no continuation, we never realize the lack of truth in it. Any information, hence, when easy to register, is more beautiful.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”
According to Shakespeare, we are all living a story! And rightly so! Our story begins from the past, continues in the present and ends in the future. All that we wish to achieve are but narratives to the same.
Stories excite us in general. If we listen to a story, we are completely immersed in it. Listening to one side of any story is far more distracting than listening to both sides. As mentioned before, any information processed easier is easier to believe.
So is the case with stories and such is the power of storytelling. We tend to believe in them more than we should.
3. Knowledge as a Curse
The curse of knowledge makes us overestimate our ability to learn and predict. It states the problems involved in being able to inhabit the mental state of mind of someone else.
People who are better informed, end up restricting themselves. They are unable to take someone else’s perspective.
The effect of believing that an event was predictable only after it occurs, is the hindsight bias. Whenever anything happens, we make a story around it using our minds. We present ourselves a story so that the information we process is fluent. We make it feel like it was and is predictable whereas it is not so.
4. Implanted Memory
Every time we recall a memory, we discover something new about it. This new information gets altered in the previous memory. When we revisit it again, we start with altering the newer version again.
The power of our mind is such that we keep on modifying the facts that we recall until it also becomes a false event. Most of the memories we hold to our hearts are but upgraded versions of what actually took place. We also tend to forget the initial stories, which is why improving memory is important.
5. Memories are Contagious
Our memories are not just ours, there are other people and events involved too. When we get together to talk about the memories that both share, we often get a mixed version of it. We also recall how we had forgotten the experience the other person just shared.
As much as people change, their memories also can. Even the slightest of changes in questions after an event can change everything. The perception of individuals, more precisely.
As quoted by Oscar Wilde, “Memories is the diary that we all carry with us.”
They are not only a reference to our past but also help us predict our future. They are sweet and bitter reminders of what everything that has shaped you up.
Memories also hint on areas where you lack. You end up learning new skills to upgrade yourself from the teachings of the past. Memories can be very vulnerable and the illusions that come with it may frighten us, but they are what makes us up.
It is important to be skeptical and question our beliefs. If we are more aware and have greater insight, we can save ourselves from the illusions of the past. In this way, we can make our life happen! These illusions are dangerous to our minds and heart.
Question them, always.