Recently, it hit me that there are actually benefits to having a short term memory. I don't think this is broadly applicable. In fact, I think there are more instances in which you do not want to have a short term memory. Allow me to explain...


Mistakes and Growth

I'm a firm believer in learning experiences. I believe people need to be afforded opportunities to learn. These often come at the cost of making mistakes. In essence, people should be granted the opportunities to make mistakes, learn, and then grow. 


As an example, I recently made a decision at work that caused an issue. My team was clear that they had my back and that I needed to understand what to do the next time. I wasn't hung out to dry, but I certainly was disappointed in myself. When push comes to shove, I don't think your measured by your mistakes, but how you respond to them.


This is a prime example of when a short term memory is ideal. In reality, you need to accept the fact that yes this happens and this happens to everyone. Short term memories allow you to pick up the pieces and really focus on the necessary next steps.


Difficult Experiences

These patterns tend to occur around difficult experiences. At least, experiences that shake or rattle you. We're all different.


Short term memories are enabled by acceptance. This acceptance can be challenged based on how difficult the experience. For example, a bad day at work pales in comparison to a difficult life altering event. In some examples, you need to process the difficult experience and it's not even appropriate to think you should have a short term memory or accept it easily.


As such, short term memories are not desirable nor applicable for all experiences. Be careful about your own expectations. Sometimes you expect to be able to have a short term memory. And, sometimes you need to allow for more time to accept these circumstances. I think it's ideal to apply a short term memory when you feel like it's appropriate, but you certainly should not expect it if you find the circumstances to be more difficult to process than you anticipated. In fact, this is yet another expectation that can just make you feel worse.


Moving Forward

There is no script to follow for when a short term memory is applicable, just like there is no script to follow when difficult circumstances come up. Each individual is different and there may be some benefit to evaluating this strategy but also knowing when to not apply it. I think the one key point is to just stay calm and not blame yourself while seeking acceptance.