I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou
I have never heard a more profound statement than this. The words a person says can hurt us or console us for the time being. But the emotion they generate or the feelings they create, stay with us forever. Every time we watch any old videos or film footage of an event, it amazes us that we remember the event differently. It is because we reminisce the event through the emotions that it generated though, the words spoken might imply something else.
One embarrassing memory of mine involved getting insulted for my dress by a cousin at a wedding function. When I revisited the old wedding video, I saw that my cousin only said that the colour of the dress was gaudy. My memory painted a different picture of me getting insulted. Based on that memory, for the longest time, I thought my cousin hated me. I avoided her everywhere I went.
It is not just what people say, but also our home, neighbourhood, schoolyard and so on that get tainted by our emotions. When I think back to my childhood vacations, the park near my house was as big as a football stadium. My back yard had a jungle in it. When I revisited my old home, I was surprised to see the actual size.
Many times we reminisce on past events, big and small in terms of our feelings. Most of us narrate past memories by starting off with, ‘I clearly remember feeling….’ We do not even remember the correct sequence of events or exact words uttered, however, we can correctly relay the emotion behind the words. For some reason, our mind stores feelings and emotions more carefully than it does the verbatim.
Would you agree with me on this? Words and actions may be powerful, but at the end of it, our feelings are what create memories.