They tell you that keeping a journal improves your memory. I have kept a journal for the past 15 years or so, and I found this to be true. If someone tells me their birthday, I remember it. I remember insignificant details of something that happened 12 years ago. And I remember all other kinds of useless information. I’m not sure if this memory skill was built up because I keep a journal or if it’s just something I was born with, but it doesn’t matter that much.
For the most part, having a good memory is a wonderful (and useful) thing. The unfortunate part of this is that I expect others to also have a good memory, and I tend to get upset when they don’t remember. What I learned in 2015 is that the majority of the time, nobody remembers. At work, I remember the names of my coworkers’ kids, where they grew up, the name of their previous company, and all the usual small talk minutiae. But they never seem to remember any of these details about me or about each other, so I often find myself bored at work parties because it seems like the same conversations are happening over and over. I don’t want to seem like the smarmy person who says, “You told me that already,” so most of the time, I resort to smiling and nodding.
Most of the time, it’s disappointing to realize that most people don’t remember stuff about you, but this realization has come in handy when I do or say something I perceive as idiotic. Then I have to remind myself that nobody is watching me that closely, no one is keeping score, no one really cares all that much, and they most likely won’t remember it tomorrow. And if they do remember, it probably doesn’t matter that much to them anyway. They have their own lives, and they’re not that worried about what me or anyone else is doing, and rightly so. I tend to worry about and remember far too much about what others are doing, when it would be a lot healthier to not care.
So in 2015, I learned a really good way to stop myself from letting cognitive distortions take over my brain: repeating the mantra they don’t remember, and if they do remember, they don’t care over and over.