The biggest problem after brain injury is with short-term memory loss. Memories are the records of our experience. Lacking memory does not mean we stop experiencing things. But it can mean becoming unaware of our experience. We forget when and where we are and spend our energy on piecing things together and trying to keep track. And then we get tired out.
It’s a bit like being cast adrift on an uncharted sea.
Without a chart, how might we map our course to our next shore? How can we tell where to go to catch the biggest fish to eat? Not just that, who last had the captain’s log? Where is it supposed to be kept? And where is this captain character, anyway?
The good news is that the chart is not the sea. Though important and useful, it is only the representation of the sea.
What does that mean in the real world? It means that the good news is this: Memories are not experience. Though they give us a sense of space and time and “self” within spacetime, they only represent the past.
We are living in the present. Strengthening our attention on where we are and what’s happening around us improves our skills at making memories. The memory you make now is a memory to recall tomorrow.
Anchoring the N.L.P. Way
Before I talk about “anchoring”, it might help you to watch a short therapy session first. It lasts 4 minutes. And of course you can go to it again and again, any time you like. Click here to watch the session.
Here is what the therapist does:-
- Learns from the client the “state” / mood the client wants to be in. (It’s “happy”.)
- Learns how the client looks when she’s happy.
- Asks the client to remember a specific time when she felt very happy.
(Note: If she had a brain injury, this would most likely be a long-term memory from long ago. But you know that.)
Next the therapist:-
- Gets the client to put her attention into her body and almost relive the original experience.
- Asks the client to choose a knuckle the therapist can touch. (It is the knuckle she anchors the client’s happy feeling to.)
- She keeps her finger on that knuckle. She encourages the client to relive the memory again – to see what she saw, hear what she heard, feel again her own laughter throughout every fibre of her body.
- The therapist takes her finger from the client’s knuckle, asks the client to choose another happy memory.
As soon as the client has choosen, the therapist:-
- Holds her finger on the knuckle again and repeats the process with the client.
- Brings the client’s attention back to the present.
- Chats and, now and again, touches the client’s knuckle.
Each time the client feels her therapist touch that chosen knuckle, she laughs. Her happy state is anchored.
Okay, so how can anchoring help make new memories? By paying attention to your body’s sensations in what you’re doing now. Use the help of a friend, carer, coleague. If only one thing today makes you chuckle or want to scream, take note of how your whole body feels in that moment. Make sure you give that feeling a label.
That label is important. It’s job is to link you to the anchor you choose and to the experience that is tomorrow’s memory.
Anchoring might not be your thing. Then again, it might prove a big help. Feel free to share how well it goes after three or more practices.
Take care. More next month.