Hacking Your Long Term Memory

August 6, 2021
"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts”. - John Wooden

Here we go again. Diving deeper into how we think and develop as humans is one of my favorite things to do so give me a few minutes of your time here as we explore long-term memory components. 

Let’s go over two types of Long Term Memories for the purpose of helping you understand how important it is to remain aware of what we feed our minds on a daily basis. The Science of long-term memory starts with Explicit and Implicit memory. Explicit is also known as Declarative Memory, which are memories that can be recalled consciously. You can see in the graphic below that Explicit Memory is split up into other sections depending on the type of memory being recalled, but I don't want to dive that deep into long-term memory this round.

Examples of explicit memory include remembering what you learned in your psychology class, recalling your phone number, identifying who the current president is, writing a research paper, and remembering what time you're meeting a friend to go to a movie.

Implicit on the other hand is also known as Procedural Memory simply because it’s automatic. Usually, a response that happens automatically or a process that is ingrained in you that you don’t have to think about to achieve, think riding a bike or driving a car.

The research that I found interesting is one that shows how stress is a strong factor as to how our implicit memory and explicit memories are used. “These results reinforce the view that acute stress can be highly disruptive for working memory processing. They provide new evidence for the facilitating effects of stress on implicit memory for negative emotional materials.”

The one that was more eye-opening was a research study that was done which showed how implicit memory is more dangerous to the emotional state. “In studies of explicit memory, researchers have reliably demonstrated that mood-congruent, depressive information is especially likely to be recalled by individuals exhibiting depressed mood.” (Science Direct)

There is a lot of research on mental health tied to implicit and explicit memory, but let's focus on your Implicit Memory. It’s the memory you take for granted because you think we know what you know, and that's where the problem starts.

Your Implicit Memory can be a problem if you don’t take the time to improve things that you think you know how to do. The way that implicit memory becomes part of your daily habits is through our environment. You surround yourself with a lot of people that listen to rock and roll well, chances are you're going to start listening to rock and roll. You listen to a specific personality on TV or on a podcast chances are high your subconscious is going to pick up some of their terms which you will reuse in your day. With implicit memory, you begin to pick up mannerisms and other small things that seem insignificant, but can be detrimental to the way you live your life.

This is why I want you to take the time to ask yourself one question when it comes to how you do anything. As you begin to ask this question you become aware of some of your thoughts and actions that need changing in your life.

When was the last time you thought about re-analyzing something you thought you already were great at?

Here is where you begin to master things you continually deconstruct regardless of your knowledge of them or how well you do it. By doing this often I was able to deconstruct my evening and morning routine, my tonality with my kids, my dialogue with my clients, my social media marketing, etc…

One common mistake you can easily make here is the thought that practice makes better, but not necessarily because not all practice is optimal. Practicing something incorrectly will only give you mediocre results and in some cases will not get you what you want. This is why you should always seek to understand and come from a place of humility.

Apply this to business and life. One way is to always approach situations with the knowledge that you don’t know what you don’t know because there will be times you don’t know what you think you know and that's what we have to be careful for.

What you read, listen to, and who you hang out with are all affecting your implicit memory and this is why you have to be careful what you feed your brain through your environments. Always doubt yourself, because being comfortable in doing something the way you've always done it is the antithesis of growth.

There is so much more to dive into here, but I hope that I at least got you thinking about how to slightly improve yourself.

Thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe.

Graphic redesigned from: 


Research on Explicit and Implicit Memory: