Chapter 8: Memories Are Fabricated
We learned in Lesson 6 that thinking is the same as taking action. If you accept it, can you say for sure that your brain could differentiate real experiences from mere imaginations or fantasies? You may say, “Yes, I can. Everyone can do it too.” However, the answer is actually, “No.”
The below example illustrates what I mean: there is a mother who reads to her child almost every night. “One day, I was too tired so I was about to skip reading. My son then said ‘Mom, you always skip reading.’ I was surprised, as I seldom go to bed without reading to him. This made me realize how children perceive negative events in an exaggerated manner.”
Children indeed tend to perceive what happen to them in this fashion. They cannot recognize what they regard as normal but strongly remember what is not. Thus, the boy only remembers the times when his mother didn’t read to him. Those few events left stronger impressions in him and are repeatedly recalled in his mind. The more frequently the events are remembered, the more they become intensified. Consequently the boy ends up thinking this happened “all the time”.
Also, you often hear people say: “My parents ignored me all the time when I was a child, “My dad hit me a lot when I was young,” “As a child, I was crying all the time,” and so forth. You must be skeptical if those statements are really true. Ask them what details they actually can recall on these occasions. Usually, it is the case that they can only remember just one or a couple of times the event happened in their lives of thirty-plus years. Yet, they would tell you that this ALWAYS happened. What occurs is that their imagination/fantasy has constructed and expanded what happened to build the memories as they have now.
By the same token, whatever good deeds you imagined doing are repeated in your mind, and the repetitions make you feel like you had always been doing them actually.
1. “I always cared about my mom.” (Imagination/Fantasy)
2. “I always helped my mom with chores.” (Occasional action and imagination/fantasy)
3. “I always took care of my younger brother.” (Forgetting about having bullied him much more than taking care of him)
4. “My dad was always asleep at home.” (This actually happened once a week.)
You need to be careful especially with case 1, a memory created by imagination/fantasy. You are aware of your own imagination/fantasy and believe in your mind that you did care about your mom for real. But you fail to notice the thoughtfulness of others because it is invisible and unrecognizable to you.
Thus, your memories of your own good conduct become inflated by imagination/fantasy, while you do not do the same for the good behavior of others. Bad actions by others get magnified by your imagination/fantasy in your mind and are remembered that way. Then, how reliable is your memory?
I have shown you how memories can be constructed by your own intention. The basis of your life is rooted in your childhood, but it consists of your own imagination and fantasies to a large degree. This means that you can manipulate and change most of the root since you are the one who created it.