Why do I forget names?

Written by Laura Walker.

Why do I forget names?

I have just come back from one of our lottery funded public talks ‘How to remember things better’ at Truro library.

It was great fun and the room was full of friendly people who just want their memories to work better! Don’t we all! there was some hilarity that I was unable to remember the name of our Memory Matters facebook group (Memory Fitness), or the fluid that cleans and flushes out toxins in our brain when we sleep!

As I explained where memory often breaks down I recognised myself again and again…

We all do it…

You are introduced to someone for the first time and within minutes are struggling to think of their name.

So where is memory breaking down?

If we simplify memory in to 3 phases it makes it easier to see where we can practice and make adjustments to improve our memory.

  1. Registration
  2.  Filing
  3. Recall

Most people will tell me they have a poor memory because they can’t recall when actually the problem is occuring right at the beginning.

It is likely that you are not forgetting but not registering.

When we meet someone new in a new environment we are likely to be thinking about all sorts of other things.

“Am I wearing the right clothing for the occasion”, “How do I keep this person interested/ what will I say next?”, “Was my handshake too weak?” This internal dialogue won’t serve you well and yet a lot of us will find ourselves doing just that.

Your brain, although brilliant, can’t process two conversations at the same time.

Top tips

  • Set your intention as you approach “I will remember your name” (Our brain likes clear instructions). Doing this will help you to stay focused.
  • Repeat the name at least 3 times and out loud if it doesn’t feel too silly.
  • Use pictures- Our brains are hardwired to remember using images. eg. If the man’s name is Brian, imagine his face with a massive BRAIN spilling out his ears. If you can make the image conjure an emotion, in this instance, disgust, the memory has more of a chance of sticking.
  • Review a few minutes after, half an hour after, an hour, a day etc. depending on how long you want to remember. You can review weekly for a while until its implanted!

All of us have the ability to remember better. It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it!


If you would like to attend one of Laura’s free talks in Cornwall or access a free web class visit the Memory Matters Memory Fitness Page

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