Changing the emotional component of a memory

 

A recent study has found that a drug can help change the emotional components of a memory. A memory is recalled, the emotional component is different than before, and this helps change the emotional association next time the memory is recalled. (If I interpret the study correctly.)

This is a similar process as other approaches, only that the strategy is slightly different. This time using a combination of psychology (simple recall) and biochemistry (the pill).

Just to go through the processes I usually tend to write about here:

The Work does something similar, first by changing our relationship with the stories around something stressful, which in turn changes how emotions are triggered, both in type and intensity. And then also by visualizing the trigger situation, but now with different emotions associated with it.

It happens at each step in the process. For instance, at question four: who would you be without the story? Here, we recall or image the situation (past or future), but this time without the story, and so without (or with less of) the emotions triggered by the story. So next time the story is triggered, the habitual emotional component is reduced in intensity, or sometimes not even there. The turnarounds allows the truth in new stories to be seen, so the initial story no longer seem so solid, which means the emotions associated with the initial story are not triggered in the same way.

In both of these cases, the situation is recalled with a different relationship to the story, which means the emotions are not triggered in the same way as before. So when the story comes up in the future, there is likely to be a different relationship to it again, changing the way the emotions are triggered.

And also, the triggering situation is now associated with a different emotional component, so when it comes up again, either in real life or by going to it in a thought, the new association is more likely to come up. New habitual patterns are formed.

Being with whatever comes up also does something similar. By fully allowing whatever comes up and being with it in an heartfelt way, there is a reduced grasping on resistance to it. And this allows the emotions to arise in a different way. With resistance, they seem very solid, and maybe also fixed and persistent. Allowing resistance to go, they are revealed as they are without the resistance… in a more fluid form, and for instance more as a sweet fullness. So here too, the emotional component associated with a memory is changed. The next time it is triggered, something will be different in how we relate to it. We may remember to be with it again, and the emotion itself may have a different quality and seem less solid.

Choiceless awareness is another example. Here, we differentiate between pure perception and the overlay of thoughts, and realize that what appears as a solid unit of emotion is really just a perception (sensation) and an overlay of stories. Seeing clearly that the two are two different things creating the appearance of emotion, there is no emotion anymore, just sensation + a story. The experience of it is quite different, and the label is quite different as well. And this too, inevitably, changes the emotional component triggered by certain stories.

The Work explores the initial story triggering the emotion. Being with it allows the emotion to reveal itself as it is prior to and absent of resistance. And Choiceless Awareness (labeling practice) allows the components of emotion to reveal itself, and the gestalt (emotion) to fall into its components and appear much less real and solid.

In each case, all we are doing is just seeing more clearly what is already there. No manipulation of content is needed apart from that.

We see what is already more true for us than the initial story. We allow emotions to reveal themselves as they are prior to and without resistance to them. And we notice the components of emotions, which makes the gestalt of emotions seem far less solid and real.

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