For years, I’ve been thinking, “I ought to write a book about my life”. Even if nobody reads it I wonder how much i would remember. Furthermore, how much would I remember and get right?
In the world of cognitive science lives a bias in which we all suffer from. It is called the Confirmation Bias. The confirmation bias states that we all have the tendency to search for, interpret, focus on and remember information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.
In addition we all experience another bias called the Fading Affect Bias. A bias in which the emotion associated with unpleasant memories fades more quickly than the emotion associated with positive events. Finally, just for kicks lets Sprinkle in a little bit of False Memory or a form of misattribution where imagination is mistaken for a memory.
Because I know that these bias exist I begin to wonder how much I actually remember. This typically leads me to my next question. Which is “How Much Have I Forgotten?”
It would be nice If our minds had no capacity limits and we were able to store all of our experiences and the emotions associated with them. We would have no problem recalling every moment and how we felt at that time. But, to our disadvantage, we don’t have that ability. So our minds must keep what it thinks is important and scrap the rest. Sometimes we may recall the emotion from an experience but do we really recall the true experience when we play it out in our mind. Or do we recall the experience we think we had based on the emotion(s) that are related to it?
These are the things I think about when I try to work up distant memories of the past. Do I really recall the series of events as they actually unfolded? Probably not.
My life story, as I recall it, closely resembles that of The Heroes Journey. It’s The basic pattern that is found in many narratives from around the world.
Within philosophy of mind, the social sciences and various clinical fields including medicine, narrative can refer to aspects of human psychology. A personal narrative process is involved in a person’s sense of personal or cultural identity, and in the creation and construction of memories; it is thought by some to be the fundamental nature of the self.
By nature we are very good story tellers and we tend to always replace the Hero with ourselves. Through our own confirmation bias we find that it isn’t far all that far fetched to wear those shoes either. The Heroes story is our story. or is it, Our story is the Heroes story? Either way you choose to skin that cat. You are correct.
Confirmation biases are effects in information processing. Some psychologists use “confirmation bias” to refer to the tendency to avoid rejecting beliefs, while searching for evidence, interpreting it, or recalling it from memory.
Experiments have found repeatedly that people tend to test hypotheses in a one-sided way, by searching for evidence consistent with their current hypothesis.
So basically, we search for the answers to questions we already believe we have the answers to. So that way when we find the answer we were looking for we can say “Ah Ha, I was right all along.” This is why we are able to relate to the Hero so well. Since we believe that we are the hero we only look for the things that confirm it to be true. Not such a bad thing really. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a hero? Am I right?
So my story isn’t all that different from your story. It’s full of ups, downs and side to sides. The only difference is that I am me and you are you. It’s easy to try and hitch our wagon to the journey of others and say “me too”. But our journeys are all unique and the reality is, we are each unto ourselves our own hero. The people in it (our story) may change but the fundamental outlines of our journey will always be the same.
So if the world are the pages, then you are the pen. This is your story, so make it a good one.