How False Memories May Affect You: 3 Ways To Build Self Trust


How False Memories May Affect You: 3 Ways To Build Self Trust
If you can’t be sure your own memories are true, what can you trust? Learn how to trust yourself.

Part of the science world is a buzz with the latest study on false memories. In the world of love, family and relationships, false memories can be bombs. A false memory is not a deliberate lie. But it can be a factual inaccuracy.

The false memory bomb exploded in the world of psychology years ago when a woman said she was sexually abused by her father as a child and her father charged that a therapist induced memories of something that never happened. In a false memory, someone remembers some fact or event that didn’t actually happen.


So if your own memories can be false how can you know what’s true?

  • Trust that your emotions tell you something real even though they may lead you to distort the facts.
  • Don’t work harder to be unemotional. Work harder at being good at emotion. Stay with your feelings long enough to experience the energy of them, and to know what they’re really about.
  • Accept that emotions are a natural part of you. Don’t bury the truth of your life. Be real about what’s inside.

Of course, you don’t want to feel pain but if it’s there, you can end up building lie upon lie if you don’t face it. People who become more able to handle the full range of feelings are capable of greater self knowledge and love. And they may be able to experience and remember with more clarity and accuracy.

Wendy is an example of someone who didn’t want to face the jealousy and hurt she was feeling for weeks. But at a party, she couldn’t focus on anything but her husband’s interactions with other women. She later accused him of being involved with someone else. She recalled every detail of one interaction: How he was standing, what the other woman was wearing, how he gestured and laughed. Her husband said she was nuts. Sure, he talked to other women, no one in particular, he said. He couldn’t even enjoy the party because he knew Wendy was mad at him all night.
Wendy walked into the party with feelings that set her up to see in a certain way.

For weeks, her husband had been staying late at work, paying little attention to her. She hadn’t talked to him, or admitted her feelings to herself. She’d been telling herself that she didn’t care. She hated being “weak.”

But the more she tried to ignore how much she cared, and how hurt she was, the more her feelings took control of the way she saw.
Her husband walked into the party feeling that he couldn’t do anything right by his wife. He said he paid more attention to other women because he felt less on guard with them.

Would a video of the party reveal who had the false memory?

Probably not because the truth of the situation lay in the couples emotions. Each felt justified and neither took responsibility for his/her emotional state. Each experienced and saw through her/his own emotional lens.

Did you ever go through anything similar? Did you and your lover argue endlessly about the facts without either of you owning what you were feeling?

Article contributed by

Carol Freund


Carol L. Freund, LCSW

Holistic Psychotherapy with a Relational Approach

Location: Flemington, NJ
Credentials: LCSW, MA
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