July 13, 2024

Why is it easier for me to remember that I forgot something than to remember the thing that I forgot? John Gray, York

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Readers answer

Wait, I know that. sparklesthewonderhen

Because the former is a concept and the latter is detail. And you will know me

Consider yourself lucky that you can still remember that you forgot something. His Bouquet

If you’ve forgotten something you know you should have remembered, it won’t help to think about it too much. Come back to it in 10 minutes – if you remember to do so! Edricom

Sometimes people use the expression “I forgot” as an excuse. My response has always been: “You didn’t forget – you remembered to forget.” Richard Dopson, retired psychologist, Vancouver, Canada

Like tying a knot in a handkerchief, but then not being able to remember why you tied it? Many things are going on in your mind. By juggling many balls in the air, you are almost certain to forget about one of them and only remember it when the pattern is broken. You need a task specific memory aidrather than the knot in the handkerchief. Mr. Cassandra

Even worse is remembering that you forgot to do something, then remembering what it was that you forgot to do, going back to do it and finding that you had already done it but forgot that you did it I think this is happening to me with increasing frequency, but wish I knew for sure. BelowTheTideline

I could be wrong of course, but I tend to think we are not in the head, more forgetful over time, but rather we place more meaning on the potential to forget (and think the worse). I have no evidence to back this up, but I’m not sure if I suddenly forgot to remember things. I just think, as you get older, your natural default is to worry that one has some kind of degenerative disease, because that’s what we’re forced to do. Of course there are people with problems, but most of us probably panic for no reason.

I worked with someone who got to the point where he would leave the house, come halfway to work, and then convince himself that he had left the front door open, or the stove on. He gave in and returned home. I sometimes think so, but while in the confidence of youth I would have rejected it at once, I now think sincerely. I convince myself my doubts are nonsense and, lo and behold, when I get home, I’m right. Heath Robinson

When I can’t find my glasses, I often forget to remember why I wanted them in the first place as I squirm here and there. Any eight year old like me would agree. RPO Orlando

I tell my imaginary cat. If I had a real cat I would tell you, but I don’t. I may not remember doing something, but if I tell my imaginary cat I did it, then I will remember it. Weird, huh? Easytiger77

The brain probably remembers almost everything it notices, but it needs help retrieving that information at a later stage, especially when the information is not marked as important. Just because something is “urgent” or “should be done” doesn’t mean your brain will classify it as important; it might be something you don’t feel like doing, or aren’t sure or ready for, in which case another mechanism might even try to help you not remember. You will usually remember things that are important to you you or that you want to do. For the others, you have to teach yourself how to remember better, through labels, games, associations and so on.

Think of all those tip-of-the-tongue problems: knowing you know, but not being able to find the answer at that moment. Your brain often continues searching when you’ve given up, and delivers the answer later. Michael

An old neighbor of ours once told me he has tablets to help his memory, but he forgets to take them. I think he joked. dargie

A very common reason for short-term memory loss is that evolution has trained us to erase our short-term memory when we enter a new place so we can assess dangers. We shift our attention from memory to the immediate environment, so we forget something, but know that we have forgotten something because we are in a new place and must have gone there for a purpose.

For example: I’m in the living room and want to cut a label off a shirt I just bought, but I know the scissors are in the kitchen. When I go into the kitchen, I wipe my short-term memory as I shift my focus to the new environment to look for threats – mice, rats, snakes. (No, my kitchen is not that disgusting…) Although I have now forgotten why I entered the kitchen, I know I did it for a reason; why else would I be there?

The way to recover my memory is to retrace my steps. This introduces the paradox that I am erasing short-term memory again by moving to the old location, which is now a new location. The difference is that because I’m back where I started, there’s a physical reminder of my original intention to activate memory, so I remember why I went to the kitchen because I can see the item then needs scissors . MrNorrisChangedEmail

It can be some kind of tragic relationship issue. Have you considered a career as a country and western lyricist? Andrew Carroll

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