This is the tenth part of a lengthy article by Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., called Emotional Memory Management: Positive Control Over Your Memory. The link to the next segment is included at the close of this segment.
Techniques for File Control
- Practice paying attention to how your file system works. If you find yourself in a bad mood, or even happy mood, use the approach, “What file is out?” You will then find the file, what feeling is contained in the file, and will then be able to have some control over the file.
- If a bad file starts to come out, do something physical before the two-minute emotional release surfaces. If someone mentions a name or you have an event that brings up a bad file, for example, immediately pinch your ear, touch your watch, or do something physical that lets you know a file is out. You may then change files mentally or even verbally. When talking with others, we can verbally change files by stating, “That’s kind of a sensitive topic for me, I’d rather not discuss that.” The physical action helps remind us that we have control over these files.
- Take a bad file and put a funny name on it – the funnier the better. If we have people we dislike or even hate, a funny name is helpful in controlling the emotional content of that file. Common names that might be used are “Bozo,” “Beanie Weenie,” “Air Head,” etc. It is also effective to combine both the funny name and physical action.
For example, if we call a gossip-oriented relative “Sinus Drip”, we can combine the pulling of the file with the name and the physical action of blowing our nose. Again, as the brain will only allow one feeling at a time, the humor and physical action usually is enough to kill the file.>/li>
- Many times we go through a series of horrible experiences, often lasting for years. These may include bad marriages, periods of unemployment, traumatic childhoods, and so forth. Place all those files in one mental filing cabinet. Then place a label on the entire cabinet, one that reflects the condition at that time. Some clients have used such labels as, “Wild and rowdy years,” “My misery years,” and so forth. When a file from that period is brought up, instead of focusing on the file and allowing the emotion to surface, the individual thinks to himself, “That file is from my wild and rowdy years, it’s not needed now.” Lumping all files together in one general category decreases the emotional impact and prevents pulling specific files.
- Together with your spouse or significant other, you may train each other to recognize when one file is out. When a file pops out, a simple time-out hand signal, a certain look, or a certain comment may make the other person aware that a file is out at the wrong time. This cuts down many arguments. Using this method, couples tend to stay on-track and discuss their concerns more at length, without being bothered by bad files.
- Looks for “blocks” in communication with others. Often these emotional blocks are actually files being pulled in response to something the other person does. Do they sound like a relative/friend or do they remind you of something or some situation. Make a new file on that person.
- Keep several good and mood-lifting files in close memory. If a bad file is pulled during the day, you then have good files ready to recall – and change your mood. Many people have files about vacation or other happy times to be used if a bad file is pulled. Always follow a bad file with a good file – it keeps your mood up.
- In times of social crisis, create and rehearse a special file to cover uncomfortable questions – a “press release”. During a divorce/separation situation, people frequently ask about your situation. Rather than pull up the “divorce” file, pull up a “divorce public relations” file that states “things are pretty disorganized right now with us. I tell you more as things settle down.” Make the public relations file brief, short and sweet.
- Practice file pulling, especially good files. Look at old pictures of happy times, high school yearbooks, etc. Observe the number of files that are pulled when you do this. It’s amazing how much information your memory contains.
[The next segment continues with Rule: The brain doesn’t know if a file is real or imagined!]