Integrating Memory In Your Brain


Brain Caged

All through our lives, NeuroPositive being helps us grow in our capacity for secure, healthy attachments and more workable, comfortable, and loving relationships. Insecure, unhealthy attachments come from negative feelings and from DownSpiral living.

The DownSpiral “cages” your brain, captive and narrow.

The DownSpiral narrows us, makes us suspicious and insecure, so it is easy to understand why insecure or unhealthy attachments of any kind are the outcome of narrowing 
and negativity.

Secure attachment that is easier and more reciprocal comes from UpSpiral living, where positive feelings and being are an outcome of living in this UpSpiral for longer and longer periods of time.

But why is this the case?

Over the period of our lifetime, our task is one 
of integration of the negatives of the past and present into a greater whole of positivity, understanding, and acceptance. That is what the brain is doing as we become more positive. If we are becoming more negative, we can’t do this kind 
of positive integration. In fact, more dis-integration occurs.

DownSpiral Red

In a DownSpiral,
we become more distrustful, more negative, more narrow, and we make choices to close ourselves off from the attachments that are full and healthy. Our attachments become more narrow, and integration of the negative into a more positive “whole” can’t happen. This integration or wholeness of our experience is a major task of the maturing adult. When it doesn’t happen, depression, dis-ease, and a disconnection with one’s self, others, and life is the result.

The left side of the brain, the left hemisphere, is that part of the brain that remembers negative memories, and it does this very well. It remembers them pretty much in order, like a list, and it remembers the details –but particularly the negative details in a very one-sided way –the way the person wants to remember them.

The more negative the memory, the more it is cut off from the right side of the brain, the right hemisphere. This right hemisphere remembers things differently. It remembers things more as a whole and more in the context in which they happened. It remembers with a wider view or a wider perspective; it gets and sees more of the whole picture.

In fact, the right side of the brain can store the greater details of a situation and be shut off from the left side of the brain so that the two recollections and ways of seeing the negative thing or the negative memory are cut off from each other. Putting them back together again is called integration. But experiences can be so negative or painful that they can be “jammed” by the left hemisphere in such a way that they never make it to the other side, so to speak.

Are you left or right brained or is neither side dominant? The

The whole process we see in getting older that we call “mellowing” or “softening” is probably this process at work in our lives.

Over time, we open up and let the 
right side of the brain take the wider look and include more of the over-all picture. We understand things differently. We understand that our fathers or mothers or friends came from situations where their lives were difficult, and we understand that people, including ourselves, do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do if they were upset or pressured, or just humanly made mistakes once in awhile.

People with healthy, secure attachments find it generally easier to let go, step back, and let this kind of wider understanding happen.

The greater the frequency of insecure, unhealthy attachments, the harder it is for the most part not to hold on to negative memories, hurts, and experiences. Here is where positivity being is very important.

The more we can experience positivity and the UpSpiral, and build stronger positive emotions, the more trusting and open we are likely to become.

©Dr. William K. Larkin

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Shelly

    This quote particularly stood out to me: “Over the period of our lifetime, our task is one 
of integration of the negatives of the past and present into a greater whole of positivity, understanding, and acceptance.” It reminds me of growth and development over one’s lifespan. Given healthy growth and development, I believe we do the above naturally, i.e., it’s normal to integrate negatives into the greater whole of positive living. However, like the article points out, we do have death, dis-ease, disappointments and the like to contend with on a sometimes daily basis. So it really comes down to a choice. Are we going to let the naturalness of life reign in our lives or are we going to allow the negatives in life to remove or distract us from what is rightfully ours? I know what I’m choosing. How about you?

    • Dr. Donald B Johnson

      Shelly, what have you learned in our training that has changed the “natural” integration of negativity into a more defined, deliberate positivity? You mention the very important issue of choice. How does that play out in your experience of the UpSpiral?

  • kathy poehnert

    I love the idea that my brain is widening as I age. I remember in class, at the very beginning, we were told that the brain in the “second half of life” is not overly concerned with remembering names, or where the car keys are….but is more concerned with developing wisdom, and in seeing the bigger picture…..putting together the seemingly disparate details of our lives into a meaningful, positive whole. …That helped me to sigh in relief!
    This article helps to explain that more to me, and helps me to understand why friends who always seem to have a “victim” mentality which results from some childhood challenges, may not be able to integrate both halves of their brain, as negative memories are “jammed” in the left side.

    • Shelly

      Me too, Kathy! It’s great to know we’re growing!

      • kathy poehnert

        Agreed Shelly!

  • BAM

    I am a visual learner and the first line of this blog conjures up a picture of the UpSpiral widening and the DownSpiral narrowing. Our original diagram of the UpSpiral and DownSpiral showed an hourglass shape. It feels like we descend into a dark narrow pit as we DownSpiral. The image of the brain caged in a DownSpiral feels to me like that dark narrow pit. Trapped potential. While those images help me understand a concept, I don’t want to hold either in my head.

    Interesting that we allow the right side of the brain to have a broader lens as we age. I think we get more comfortable in our own skin and more accepting of ourselves as well as more tolerant of others. Often people show more creative expression as they age as well. As we soften maybe we are more inclined to frame negative past events and look at them from the right hemisphere? This concept of positive integration ties into the ratios of positive and negative offsets. I see this as important in current day to day but also as we reflect on past events and experiences. Increasing the ratios of positive to negative allow us the freedom and joy of living our authentic life in an UpSpiral and hence giving way to healthier cells and less dis-ease.

    The DownSpiral cage can be unlocked with a key and there are ways out of the DownSpiral pit such as a rope or a ladder. That key and the rope or ladder are simply metaphors for the tools we have available to us.

  • Dr. gloria wright

    Sometimes I think we have the “which came first – the chicken or egg” – dilemma throughout our lives. Maybe it is just a cycle where positive and/or negative feeds off itself. We have unhealthy attachments and relationships and we are depressed, angry and hopeless. When we live in a depressed, angry and hopeless frame, we have unhealthy attachments and relationships and vice versa.

    How can we sustain any healthy attachments and or relationships, if we do not indeed nurture positive thoughts, beliefs and emotions? If we continually replay old negative experiences, we are not likely to trust or hope or see the best in others. This negative cycle continues as we reinforce our fears and doubts by making choices that prove the negative. “You just can’t trust anyone” becomes true – because we keep choosing untrustworthy people to trust. And, etcetera….

    Back to the chicken and egg dilemma, do we have positive thoughts, feelings and beliefs and therefore have healthy attachments and relationships or vice versa? I don’t think the answer to this question is as important and knowing that they do influence each other. The more positive you are in every way, the more likely you are to draw positive attachments and relationships to you. As you starve off those negative memories and perceptions, the less likely they are to continue to play out in your life.

    “Like attracts like” is a pretty basic premise. Be likable and you are likely to attract likable people. Think well of yourself and others are likely to follow suit.

    A colleague of mine once commented: “The most important way to attract and keep terrific people in your life is to be one yourself.” Amen!!

  • Beverly Harvey

    This post is very interesting. As someone who previously lived in a downspiral more often than an UpSpiral, my left hemisphere was jammed with negative memories and negative thoughts. Over the past several years, I have noticed more and more of this left-brain/right-brain integration (without knowing what it was about). I came to realize that my parents had lived through the depression and that created a great deal of stress and anxiety which they didn’t know how to handle and never fully recovered from. They maneuvered through life the best they could. This greater understanding has loosened my jam and enabled integration.

  • Jo-Anne

    Practicing in the Emotional gym over the last weeks and months has really given me the experience of growing in positive feelings and emotions. What is so amazing as a positive spinoff from this practice, is what is addressed in this post, that as we become more positive, it becomes easier to shed the memory of past negative experiences that are stored in the Left Hemisphere, “imprinted if you will”, so that we remember little details. With work and practice in pulsing and using the SOMM I am actually aware consciously that there has been some reorganization in my brain, or as this post states, “integration” in the brain, making it easier to shed and let go of those negative memories stored that no longer serve us. I guess my whole brain is becoming more “whole”. I am more aware of situations in the past that I previously viewed as negative, but can now see through my strength and lens of compassion, which is deeply gratifying, and ultimately far more healthy!

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