2004-01-30 / Columnists

The Inner Voice

by Marilyn Gelfand

Have you ever noticed how people recollect events and things differently? I am so amazed how people who experienced the same situation will later give such different accounts of what each recalled. I have realized that I remember my past events on an emotional level rather than on what actually transpired. I remember what affect ed me most, what was important to me at the time, what hurt me most..

But newsworthy events can be re called differently even without emotional investment. It gets tied in to what the perception was at the time the memory took place. I thought back to when John Lindsay was mayor, and how the people in Queens were angry because they were treated as second-class citizens compared to Manhattan ites. Another person mentioned that she thought people were unjustly complaining and blaming Lindsay for the large snowfall. Those people were my heroes since snow cleanup has much improved since then.

So, reality and our memories may or may not be factual. We have to remember this when we share information with others. Since we have so much emot ional investment in memories, we must remember to give others their space in how they see things. The facts when necessary, must be dealt with differently. If facts are needed, they can be researched and found. But don’t as sume that your head is always the last aut hority on how something took place.

Perception takes place at the time of the event. My daughter just gave me an example how she and her friend were involved in a group activity and came out with different conclusions and different approaches on how to proceed. They are the group’s leaders, and they are figuring out what would be best. They will each recall this group according to how they feel now. Since they feel differently now, their recollection must be different from each other. Humor definitely helps in dealing with this difference. When we take life more lightly, we save our big battles for the big events, not the small ones.


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