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Emotional Memories

Posted: February 21, 2021

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A stimulating conversation between R and S about the relationship between memories and memories.

R : Memories are an essential part of our being. There are times I have felt there is a very thin line between living in the moment and our need to build memories. Good, pleasant, warm memories sometimes are our go-to in tough times… kind of like that buoy which might help us survive through storms.

However whenever one thinks about memories, we think about events. Events or experiences. Events or experiences which have left us with feelings varying from love, excitement to fear and hate and everything in between – but nonetheless something tangible.

Maybe anything that can leave a visual picture for us to go back to, gets written as memories?


As a result one thing which does not have ‘memory value’ is emotions. If emotions did not have events associated with it, we would not remember them. Can emotions exist without events, that is something which we might need to explore… But what do you think S? Do you feel emotions can leave a trail in our lives the way memories do?

S: We are driven by emotions, aren’t we? Everything which we do has a learned emotion associated to it. Let’s say you were out dining in a fine restaurant, having your favorite dessert. But just suppose you were having a break-up with your partner or a fight with a friend, chances are you might associate a sad emotion to that meal. At the very least, that dessert may no longer be your favorite!

In this case I am agreeing with your point. But I don’t think that’s always the case.

Certain scents brings back certain emotions. My daughter said this to me the other day – Mama! It smells like old times! And I knew perfectly well what she meant. And it didn’t even bring back a specific memory. It just smelled of old times, of nostalgia, and of something which brought back a happy comforting feeling.

So I do think emotions can exist without events. Day to day life exists, often serenely and without anything major happening. Do you associate a collective emotion to that?

And often people have a perchance for a certain kind of emotion. For some, they view everything through a hint of sadness or happiness, even when nothing has happened which triggered it. Like a tendency to see the glass half full or empty, some ability to feel certain kind of emotions is ingrained within you.

R: Yes S, I do see and feel your point here…Certain ‘scents’ or certain thoughts do invoke emotions, which we associate with the past, hence ‘memorifying’ emotions. But these are standalone emotions.

The other day, as an exercise and as an attempt towards understanding myself better, I was trying to map progression of my emotions towards a relationship.

And what I realized was, my ‘knowledge’ of emotions is only of those that I have of the present. Can I ‘feel’ how I felt 2 years ago, no I don’t.

Are there events which lead to building a relationship, absolutely. But those events are few and far between. Not enough to track emotions using the same.

Positive or negative emotions towards relationships are based off a lot of things, including but not limited to, events, experiences, conversations, silences, our own thought process at each stage.

Something our conscious mind cannot keep track of…

S: Emotions mature as people do. So what we likely felt about something few years ago likely has changed as well. Something which might’ve invoked a knee-jerk reaction years ago, might not anymore. We become jaded or at best not as naive as we once were.

But how can you explain then, if we meet an old friend after several years we are still able to talk to them like we once used to – and it feels like the years in between never were? Isn’t that a ‘stored’ emotion?

So while emotions do not leave a clear memory sometimes as events might, it stays in a part of our brain -waiting perhaps forever – unless someone or something unlocks them.

Image source: Pexels

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