The power of words: how was your first kiss?

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Illustration: Javirroyo
Illustration: Javirroyo

How was your first kiss? We usually remember it from the perspective of a camera that films the entire scene. But almost certainly that was not how we experienced it. Maybe we closed our eyes and from that first kiss, actually, we didn’t see anything. This is how you edit memories to make them fit with the story we build of ourselves.

Those of us who move to another country or another place are often asked “because you left?”. Any answer has a hint of cheated, however honest our intention may be. What gets in the way is the inevitable perspective of the present: it is difficult to put ourselves back in the shoes of who we were when we decided to leavethe only one who could fully answer those questions.

How is our identity constructed? How to change all the time without ever ceasing to be oneself? The solution is that our identity is constructed from a perspective of movement, just as we take in the landscape on a car trip. And when things don’t progress, the brain solves it without warning us, creating a false memory.

wrote Arthur Koestler: “The clumsy adolescent, the foolish young man we once were, is often so grotesque and alien to us in retrospect that we immediately feel a kind of ironic contempt”. We are traitors of our past. Same as the jealousy and the envy lead us to create unfavorable versions of others to feel more valuable in comparison, the desire for progress disrupts the past. We are envious of our own past.

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Sometimes, with the passage of time, the reverse phenomenon: Contrasting one’s own decline with memories of a youth more vigorous than it was and thus the present begins to live on past glories. Do you tend to denigrate the past to enhance your present, or, vice versa, exaggerate it to live on past glories?

Each of us intermittently adopts these perspectives. It is a good exercise to identify the domains in which one or the other prevails and the implications that this has in our lives. The way we recount our own memories shapes our emotional contours.

Keep reading:

The power of words: treating each other like a friend

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