The Memory Behind My First Memory
I'm not a psychologist, but I've always had a fascination with human psychology because it has such a massive influence on how we approach life. Recently, I was listening to an episode of the Tim Ferriss Podcast featuring Tony Robbins when the subject turned towards analyzing one's first memory as a means of understanding one's current view of the world. Even more interesting was the concept of trying to retrieve the memory behind that memory because there may be some level of unconscious shielding or protecting to keep that memory below the surface.
To repeat, I'm not a psychologist. However, I found the exercise to be fascinating given that I can easily make connections between that memory and my beliefs at this moment in time.
My First Memory
Whenever I've been asked about my first memory, the default answer was that I was in a car heading down Fultonville hill after my 4th birthday party. I even remembered at the time thinking "I don't remember anything before today." And like a spell or a hypnotic trance, that came true. In that exact moment, I couldn't remember anything that happened to me even 1 day before, but I was consciously aware that I could remember the events of that day.
The Memory Behind My First Memory
While I didn't forget this memory, I always skipped over when asked about my first memory, but not this time. Not when I press a little further...
My very first memory was my 4th birthday party. I was so excited to open my presents and was thrilled when I opened up a gift to reveal a box of Transformers. I knew my friends had a bunch of them, and I was so excited that I would have my own set. Looking at the packaging, there were so many on display.
Joy turned to confusion when, prompted by my friends, I opened the box to get to the toys. Instead of the individual action figures, it was a series of cardboard cutouts. The gift was not the action figures themselves, but rather a base to construct and then us with the transformers you already had (or were going to purchase at a later date).
I then noticed that my friends were also confused by the situation, but I played it off cool because I didn't want them to think that I really thought there were going to be toys inside. Yet inside, I was heart broken. I had been duped.
Those that know me know that I have no tolerance for deceit. I also know that we all deceive ourselves all the time by the stories that we tell ourselves and the belief systems that we've bought into. Therefore, it's only fitting that my first conscious memory would be that of blocking out this painful experience but also awakening my memory from that point forward. It certainly explains why I do what I do, and how I've made it a point to constantly challenge people's beliefs about themselves and about others.
So what's your memory behind your first memory? And if you get still and really process what that memory represents, are you able to find an obvious connection with the belief systems you currently hold? And are those memories and beliefs empowering? I found this to be a valuable exercise to better understand myself. It is my hope that you give a try and find it to be equally valuable.
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About Rick Manelius
Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.