I’m contemplating how much emotion affects memory.

Memory can seem fleeting, especially when two things are present:

  1. I don’t think the thing is all that important
  2. I’m exposed to it one time only

So, I started imagining how memories form similar to writing in sand.

If there is no emotion then it’s like writing very lightly in the sand. The event does not go deep and is not etched permanently.

Similarly, a single exposure to an unemotional event leaves it written lightly, but repeating exposure etches the event a little bit deeper each time.

Eventually, repetition can overcome the lack of emotion in forming a memory, but that only matters in things that you can repeat. If I’m having a conversation, I’m not going to keep repeating what you say to overcome the fact that I don’t deeply care about what you’re saying. But if our conversation activates my emotions then it will etch deeper and stick with me more easily, possibly even for decades.

A lot of memory techniques rely on the emotion to remember things. They rely on creating ridiculous scenes in your mind’s eye that are jarring or funny so that you can recall them later. That’s triggering your emotions artificially so that you can remember something. It works!

So, could my fuzzy (or nonexistent) memory actually be an emotional shortage that is depriving my brain of necessary emotional fuel?

How does someone improve their emotional strength?

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