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Brain Clutter

December 22, 2008

I sometimes wish my brain were more like my digital camera. When a photo makes me cringe, I can just delete it (unless it also amuses me, like this shot Mr. Karen took of me adjusting my slip, in which case I’ll happily post it on Flickr for all to see). I’d love to be able to zap bad memories the same way. I don’t want to excise all the bad stuff, and certainly not any of the big bad stuff that’s helped shape me into the person I am, but it would be so nice to jettison at least some of the little niggling crap that just clutters up my head. Barring that, it would be great if I could disconnect those memories from the people, places, or things that cause them to pop back up in my head and make me feel sad or mad all over again. For instance, I’ve got three otherwise wonderful bottles of wool wash that I may have to give away because I see them in the cupboard and get pissed all over again at the shop that overcharged me when I bought them (with a bunch of other stuff so it was less obvious) and at myself for not pressing the issue harder when the total seemed high (I questioned the price of the wool wash, since it was on sale, but didn’t look carefully at all the other items, which is where the problem was—by the time I figured that out I was back at home a few days later). I can’t see a solicitation from the Susan Komen Foundation (and to a lesser extent any pink ribbon breast cancer stuff) without recalling a nasty exchange I had on a message board thread about a challenge grant for that organization. I suppose recalling these things helps me avoid repeating them, but I think by the hundredth or thousandth time I’ve either absorbed the lesson or am never going to get it.

Now it seems like perhaps I’ll be able to learn to let go of these negative emotions if I just wait until I’m older. Earlier today I was browsing the list of recent Holidailies entries and came across Sarah’s Older and Wiser about the results of a study on memory and emotional content, which showed older people recalled less of the disturbing stuff they were exposed to. Sarah doesn’t link a source, but my GoogleFu pointed me to this LiveScience article, which draws the conclusion that “… perhaps with age, people learn to be less affected by negative information.” I can only hope it’ll be that way for me, though I guess I have to wait a couple decades or so to find out based on the ages of the study participants. That’s okay; I plan to live to be really, really old.


One year ago: UFOs
Two years ago: Tech Cat & Accretion is for Losers
Three years ago: Spirit of the Season
Four years ago: I’ve Been Working on the SQL
Five years ago: Not a Weekly Check-In
Six years ago: Planning

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