How do you get to where you’re going if all you know is where you’ve been? Imagine walking up to a forest and there’s a clear path in front of you. Our natural inclination is to take it. But if you’re stuck – with physical pain, anxiety, or whatever else – you know where that path leads. Yet most of us go down it any way, repeating the same way of moving, behaving, and believing. So how do we go off the path and forge a new one?
It’s fascinating how little sensory cues can bring us right back to a memory, isn’t it? Like just this morning at the end of my workout, I was quickly transported back to memories of playing high school football — and it felt real. As if I were back on the field with all the sensations and emotions my mind could conjure up. And no, I wasn’t reveling in the “glory days.”
A smell or sound, even a physical position can trip those neurotags — a specific pattern of neuron activation that produces a specific response — to fire off. Perhaps it was the sensation of perspiration or the feeling of fatigue that tripped off my particular tag. Luckily for me it was a pleasant memory. But sometimes, these memories aren't so pleasant...