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How-To 3 ways to retrieve memories for storytelling

Listening to music like these old records can evoke memories of the past

Worried you won’t remember past events? You’re not alone! As we age, our memories get a little fuzzy. Think of your brain like a storage unit. It absorbs copious amounts of data every day and catalogues it depending on the type of memory – sensory, short-term or long-term.

Long term memory is like getting old boxes out from the back – it requires a bit of effort! The best thing about Memwah is through the art of storytelling, you can unlock long-term memories and share these stories with your loved ones!
Here are 3 ways you can retrieve lost memories.

1. Let your senses evoke emotion

Has a smell ever transported you back to your childhood? Or a taste reminded you of a past event? Your brain stores sense memories. This is why sights, sounds, smells and tastes can evoke emotional memories you may have forgotten. 

If you have or think you will have a strong emotional reaction to a sight, sound, taste or smell, revisit it and see what happens. Cook a meal your mum used to make when you were a child or play a song you loved when you were a teenager. 

When you feel an emotion, instead of feeling the feeling and moving on, sit with it and write down your memories. You’ll be surprised at what comes up.

2. Map out the major events in your life

It’s true that as we age, our memories fade, but it doesn’t mean they’re forgotten forever. Memory cues help us remember. 

An example of this is when an old friend or family member recalls an event and you remember details you didn't remember before. Their experience acts as a memory cue, which unlocks your experience of the event. 

You can make your own memory cues with this simple exercise.

  • Get a big piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. 
  • Write down your ages in five-year increments – 0-5 years, 5-10 years and so on. Leave enough space to write notes on either side. 
  • Now for each five-year increment, write down the big events you remember, e.g. starting high school. Make note of any episodic memories that come up. 
  • Write down the most meaningful events and try and fill in the details. These will inspire you with stories to tell.

3. Connect with an old friend or family member

Memory is subjective. Your memory of an event will differ greatly to someone else’s. Use this to your advantage.

Get in touch with a friend or family member you spent considerable time with in the era you’re trying to remember. Ask them open-ended questions – questions that start with “What” “How” and “Why”. 

Conversations about the “old times” almost always leads to memory retrieval. Much like talk therapy, talking about your memories helps you refine ones you do remember, and remember ones you don’t. 

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Tammie Winward

Tammie Winward

Founder, Memwah

Is on a mission to let people know they matter. She firmly believes that every story deserves to be heard and is dedicated to ensuring that no tale goes untold.