Unpacking Childhood Memories: What Do They Represent?
Eating your first ice cream, throwing a ball for the family dog, watching painters strip the paint off the living room wall—we all have specific childhood memories that we remember, well into our old age. But is there a significance to what our childhood memories represent?
In some cases, no.
Certain childhood memories are just that; memories. But some are the answer to the most fundamental question, who we are, and what made us who we are.
What Your Childhood Memories Say About You
According to Psychology Today, our earliest memories date back to our 3rd birthday, perhaps even a little later. But some studies suggest that the earliest memories could date back to a time even before that.
These differences arise because of each child’s unique emotional connections to their memories. Watching your house get repainted might represent a new beginning for your family. Remembering how you cried when you fell off your bike, and your mother rushed out of the house, yelling that “you shouldn’t have ridden so fast, you fool!” is an adverse emotional event. But your mind preserves both memories to help build your personality.
The impact childhood memories have on a person depends not only on how coherently you remember them but also on how clearly you understood them. For most of us, significant events in history make lasting impressions. However, personal events in our family like watching a loved one pass away or even an incident of racial or sexual injustice can create reactions like equating love and loss and developing a sense of distrust and self-consciousness. So, you can say that your memory is an autobiography. And how you perceive and store your memories can determine your behavior in the future, whether it is positive or negative. This will depend on how you reacted to those moments and made them part of your history.
My book, Mirror Mirror: A Collection of Memoirs and Stories includes many childhood memories. While writing it, I realized something significant about them.
Although you may categorize plenty as negative or somewhat sad, as I stood back and reflected on them from the present, where they could no longer hurt me, they were always instructive. After all, I had survived them! I can also credit the decisive moments in my life for making me stronger. Reflecting on these negative memories allowed me to evaluate my real sense of self.
When you think about your childhood memories, learn from them. Let the bad memories be your teachers and let them go. Gain strength from happier times. Remember, it’s up to you to benefit from all your life experiences.