“Let bygones be bygones”…“That’s water under the bridge now”…“Forgive and forget”…”This too shall pass” – such important pieces of advice, aren’t they? But does it really work that way? Is it so easily possible to erase memories (specifically the negative ones) and move on? Well, with due respect to all the well-intentioned phrases and phrasing, the fact remains that it is not easy to do so. Every experience changes the brain, and though it is possible to do & redo, it is not possible to undo.
That’s why, it is not possible to treat past & present, personal life & professional life, or home & office as disjoint sets. While efforts to compartmentalize and ‘being where you are’ are important, it is equally important to be accommodating towards any infiltration that takes place, specifically beyond your awareness. Well, before we discuss it in some details, watch this video to get the gist of what we are discussing, why it is important, and how it has relevance in professional as well as personal context…
Yes, you heard it right – Feelings don’t have an expiry date. They stay alive in the deeper corners of our brain, and come back without any permission or prior notice and that too through such cues which we just can’t justify rationally. As video discussed, the rationale behind this point is rooted in neuroscience. When there is a strong activation of emotions during an experience, in brain, a part called ‘amygdala’ stores the emotional aspects of the memory and a part ‘hippocampus’ stores the factual aspects. Together, they form ‘associative memory’. It means that even one factual item from the stored set can independently invoke that whole emotional memory.
This interaction of amygdala and hippocampus is at the heart of acquisition, consolidation and retrieval of emotional memories. That’s why, many times, emotions from the past become ‘present’ in an unrelated situation just because you see something related. For example, a person may start to feel unreasonably sad after listening to song of a particular singer because years back, when he had got news of a personal loss, a song of that singer was playing on the radio. Or, in the same vein, activation of the associative memory of your brother’s dominance because of a colleague’s speaking in high volume. To acknowledge this, introspect, empathize, and do the needful, social & emotional intelligence is required.
This ‘emotional & social intelligence’ is a function of one’s cognizance of the ‘design and function of human brain’ blended with key concepts of psychology. This coming together of applied neuroscience and behavioral science sets the base for developing emotional & social intelligence – the skill of managing self and connecting with others. Yes, it is a skill that can be learnt, practiced and mastered. However, it all begins with some important realizations like…‘Any common thread can activate stored emotions’.
Dr. Sandeep Atre
‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert
Founder – Socialigence
Note: Socialigence (www.socialigence.net) offers self-paced video-based online course on ‘Social & Emotional Intelligence’ with content that has relevance across the globe, and delivery specifically customized according to the work-scenarios in India.