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Overcoming Absentmindedness

Recalling the Isolated Fac t

Not to be underestimated is the practicality of memory aids or memory joggers! We are all familiar with the age-old method of tying a string around the finger to signal us to do something at some later time. I prefer to say “Remember” rather than saying “Don’t forget” (negative program).


Have you even taken an object which always sits in the same place and moved it onto the floor, or out of place, as a reminder to do something or to bring some particular thing with you at a later time? These are ways of planting a cue, which at some later point in time will call our attention out of automatic pilot to REMEMBER something we need to handle. I often put the telephone on the floor, or my alarm clock on a different counter, to alert my memory that there’s something I must remember. Some people now wear watches that can be programmed with alarm settings and message screens. If you’re not

ready to incorporate the latest technology into your daily lifestyle, then use this

age-old, time-tested method:



  • A signal;
  • An attention getter;
  • A “Wake-Up Call”;
  • A RE- MINDER that gently jolts your mind into the present moment and

recovers information programmed at some point in the past.

  • Once you place any object in a wrong location it “calls attention” to itself automatically.
  • Then you just have to remember why you moved it there!


Use this method whenever you must remember an isolated fact or single “To Do”.



The old term “absentmindedness” is really quite accurate; it occurs when your mind is absent, when it is focused on something somewhere else in time and space. It happens when you perform actions uncon­sciously, without thinking, or really even noticing what has happened.


There is a difference between SEEING and OBSERVING - we see with our eyes, but we observe with our minds. If your mind is “absent” when performing an action, there can be no observation. Without observation, no impression is made on the conscious mind. Without consciously registering and absorbing the impression, there can be no future recall.


We can’t forget what we haven’t remembered in the first place!


So stop worrying about the implications of simple absentmindedness . . . it’s not Alzheimer’s!!!

It is however, a waste of time. Haven’t we all spent time, energy, and aggravation searching for items we “put down somewhere without realizing it”, worrying about whether the oven or iron was turned off, or if we locked the door when we left the house? How many times have we walked out without an important item we intended to bring . . . a letter to mail, a bill to be paid, an overdue library book? How do you feel when once again you are searching for your car in a parking lot without a clue as to where it is parked?

The solution to the problem of absentmindedness is simple; however, it requires some new conditioning. Begin with the following three simple steps:



Don’t get angry or upset with yourself. These emotions further block the mind. Yes, it is very inconvenient and time consuming not to remember; however, it doesn’t mean you’re “losing your mind”! Stop reacting with negative self-comments if something temporarily “slips your mind”. It’s no big deal!! Don’t make a big deal out of it (to yourself, or others). Just wait a few moments; let the tension disperse and the information will re-surface. And if it doesn’t, relax, it will!


  • GET IN THE HABIT OF CATCHING YOURSELF being absent mentally.

This requires developing a new habit of stopping - just for the briefest moment - and observing with your mind fully attentive, making a deliberate effort to jolt your attention into the present just for a few seconds and observing the event as it happens. Actually LOOK & SEE with your mind fully aware anytime you put down your keys, your pen, your glasses (or park the car) just where you are placing these items. Pay attention to the location of the small object in relationship to the large object; notice what it is being placed on or near - the counter, the table, the seat of the car. Take a “Mental Photograph”. You can even talk to the item, saying something such as “Glasses, you are on the table.” (Don’t worry - they won’t talk back). In a flash you can observe an image that makes an impression on your mind. Beginning to notice those moments will become a worthwhile habit that will be of immeasurable value to you.


This is really the secret memory technique for recalling the isolated fact: in a second you can create an absurd picture within your mind to stimulate and lock in the impression.


What does this mean? For example, when you put the keys down on the counter, STOP for a moment and think of a ridiculous image such as seeing a thousand keys fall off the counter and mentally hear them clanking noisily onto the floor. Just focusing on a brief flash of this picture is enough to register the impression. When hours later you go looking for your keys, you’ll know right where they are.

When you set your pen down on top of the TV, quickly visualize your pen leaking a dark liquid pool of ink down the front of the TV screen. If you can REALLY SEE this, even for one or two seconds, it will most certainly flash into your mind when some time later you wonder where you put that pen; you’ll immediately see the image you created. Coming up with a funny or absurd picture only takes an instant to create, and can save many minutes and much aggravation at some later time.


When you place your glasses on the bed, look away for a split second and visualize a gigantic pair of glasses sleeping in your bed. Silly? Yes. And it works like mental magic!



Now, check yourself. If you were paying attention just now, seeing imagery while you were reading the examples above, you’ll know:

  • Where are the keys? __________________________
  • Where is the pen? __________________________
  • Where did you put down your glasses? ___________________

Isn’t it amazing how well this works? Aren’t you excited about the prospect of being less stressed and wasting less time? You’ll be amazed at the benefits when you learn to apply this technique and become “present-minded” instead of being “absent-minded”.




Why does this approach work so well? Research carried out by the Department of Basic and Visual Science at the Southern California College of Optometry indicates that when you actually see something, an electrical impulse reaches the vision center of the brain.


They’ve also discovered (rediscovered scientifically, really, since ancient philosophers said the same thing) that there is not much physiological difference between the electrical signals that are activated BY THE EYE ITSELF in comparison to the ones that are activated BY THE MIND’S EYE. In fact, active mental pictures (especially if they’re startling and absurd), when focused on clearly, may create an even stronger impression. It only takes a moment to “see” the picture. In time, you’ll learn to trust it to be there when you go looking for it later!



What about taking an important item with you when walking out the door of your home? If possible, WHEN YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT IT put the item right by the front door, on a table or shelf located there for that very purpose. Later, as you leave the house, check to see what’s on the table. Only put things that must go with you on this table.


Don’ t let the mail and other items collect there or the system is foiled!


If it’s not possible or practical to actually put the book, letter, or other objects by the door, do it mentally instead. Use a visualization technique to see the items there in an absurd and amusing way. For example: see the envelopes of mail piled up in multitudes on the table and falling everywhere. Or if it’s library books which are overdue, mentally throw a whole stack of books at the front door and hear them slam and fall. Don’t worry; of course it can’t hurt them, it’s all in your mind! And it’s a great exercise in imagination.


When you are ready to leave in the morning, STOP, look at the empty table, look at the door, and see if any items are on the table and/or any pictures are there in your mind.





Have you ever been out and away from home and suddenly wondered whether you turned off the oven or unplugged the iron?


When you leave home or walk away from your car, do you tend not to be certain if you’ve locked the door?


Here’s another suggestion for overcoming absentmindedness.


Imagine the whole house or the car rumbling and crumbling at the mo­ment you insert the key into the front door, alarm the house, or lock the car. On another day, mentally hear loud sirens. Try imagining the house flooding with water (within your mind, of course!) or the car being covering with a thick, gooey substance. Make up your own outrageous pictures. Then, an hour later wherever you may be, attempt to recall whether you locked the door. It will work, you’ll know for certain, you’ll remember! That image will bounce right back into your brain. And don’t worry, the freshest picture will come quickly to mind, telling you that you locked it today. It will automatically clear for a new image tomorrow.




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