How do you know if it’s a real memory or a false memory?

All memories are things in your head. And those things in your head are real things in your head. But that doesn’t mean they are or were real things outside of your head.

The labels you stick on the things in your head are under your control. If you choose to get into judging and discriminating between memories because you want to be certain about whether you did something or not, you’re setting yourself up for ruminating and worrying. It’s helpful to accept the stuff in your head as stuff in your head. Trying to put labels on that stuff is only going to lead to more misery. The problem here isn’t about knowing whether it’s real or not, the problem is the desire to know if it’s real or not and believing that you can somehow discriminate between real and unreal things in your head. That would be like trying to discriminate between good clouds and bad clouds. They’re all clouds.

Check out this video on “False/Real Memories”:

Back to FAQs 13 7

3 comments On How do you know if it’s a real memory or a false memory?

  • Pertaining to real memory or false. I have memories of abuse and don’t know if some are real or just bad dreams I had as a kid from some of the abuse. I can’t talk to other people who were there because if it actually happened there’s no way they would say they did it. Is there any way of telling if what I remember happened the way I remember them.

    • Something I always suggest to everybody, regardless of the topic, is that the topic that’s bothering you the most is likely not the one to tackle first. If you’re wrestling with this uncertainty, there’s likely many others, and dealing with those others first can help give you the skills to approach this. So working with a professional that has experience helping people recover and approaches treatment from a trauma-informed perspective could be very beneficial.

  • I have had issues with trying to discern what memories are real and which aren’t for the last 5 years. I don’t spend a lot of time doing it, but when I do it consumes me. Today, I had a troubling memory come up that happened within the last year. I started to question if I could trust myself if this memory was real. I found myself constantly trying to find ways to figure out if its real or false but like you’ve said, I’m not going to be able to do that. I really like what you have in this post. Thanks for helping to calm my mind.

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.

Site Footer