The Importance of Memory in TPM
The Importance of Memory in the Process of TPM
- Memory does not contain the heart belief that is causing us our pain nor is it the source of any pain in and of itself.
- Memory is not a problem that needs to be fixed or a wound that needs to be healed (e.g. the healing of memories).
- Memory plays a vital role in identifying and understanding the heart beliefs we currently believe.
- The lies that produce our emotional pain are not what we “believed at the time” (memory), but rather what we “currently believe” in the moment.
- Asking the PROCESS “Questions” should always be in the present tense as opposed to the past. For example: “How DOES that make you feel and not “How DID that make you feel?”
Memory plays an important role in TPM but not for the reasons that are commonly assumed. Sometimes memory is misunderstood to be the source of emotional pain or a location in which pain resides (e.g. a painful memory). It is not. Technically we do not have painful memories; that is memories that contain pain. We have memories of events that were difficult and painful at the time, but the memory itself cannot make us feel anything today.
It is often misunderstood to be a container that holds the lie that is causing us the emotional pain that we feel. Memory is a container of information (in that it is the compiled record of what was taken in through our five senses), but it is not the source of our pain, nor does it contain the lie that is currently causing what we feel. Memories do sometimes contain the memory of the lies, but not the current lies that we believe that are causing us to feel the pain we feel.
Memory is not a problem that needs to be fixed or a wound that needs to be healed (e.g. the healing of memories), but it does play a vital role in identifying and understanding the lies we currently believe that were initially established in the context of a life event. Memory offers a depiction of the context in which we came to embrace the lies that we believe. However, memory is not a problem, does not produce any emotion and does not ever need to be healed.
For example, I may remember believing that I had no value when I was seven; however, if I no longer believe that lie, I will no longer feel the pain that it produced. If I feel pain when I think about a particular memory, it is not because of the memory, but only because of the lie I am currently believing.
The lies that produce emotional pain are not what we “believed at the time” (memory), but rather what we “currently believe” in the moment. If I currently believe I have no value and look back at the memory I will feel bad, but it is not the memory causing me the pain. If I look at my current situation through this same lie-based belief I will feel the same pain. Neither the past or the present is causing me to feel anything. My pain is solely rooted in my present tense belief.
This is why we should ask the MEMORY Box question in the present tense as opposed to the past. “How does (NOT DID) that make you feel?” During a session it is hard to remember to always do this and slip ups are not uncommon. Even though there is probably little harm done when we ask, “How DID that make you feel?”, there is still always a possibility that the person may answer the question with memory information as opposed to what he is actually presently feeling. Rather than describing what he IS feeling he might report what he remembered feeling.
Heart Belief in the “Story”
- There may be many memories in which the person may have used the lie-based belief to interpret his life situation, but the right memory is the one that answers a vital question; “How did I come to believe the lie that I currently believe that is causing me to feel what I am feeling right now?”
- Unless we understand how we came to believe what we currently believe and therefore, feel what we are feeling, we may falsely assume that our current situation is why we believe what we believe and feel what we feel.
- We did not come to the belief we believe in the current situation, we are merely using a long held belief to interpret the moment.
- It is impossible to answer how we came to believe what we believe apart from examining a memory of when we came to believe it.
- Memory is made up of all that we remember, to include the content of what happened, the explanation that we ascribed to it (or why we believe what happened, occurred) as well as the memory of the heart belief that we remember believing at the time.
People who are new to TPM sometimes ask. “What is so important about memory? Why do we have to go to a memory to identify lie-based heart belief? Why not just ask the “MEMORY Box” questions when the person tells his “story” at the beginning of the session?”
These are good questions because it is possible that a person may actually identify his heart belief without going to the memory where he initially learned it. The fact is, their current situation -“story”- is technically a memory. So one might think, if the lie has been identified why not hold it up to the Lord for the truth?
The short answer is, probably because nothing would happen. There is a good and explainable reason for this. The memory of his boss has not provided essential information to position the person in the place where he can receive the truth. Something is missing.
Suppose a man begins his ministry session by sharing the story about how his boss criticized him at his workplace the previous week. This “story” is as much a memory as anything else he might recall from his childhood. However, following TPM protocol, we would not assume that he is in the MEMORY Box, but rather in the EMOTION Box.
As the person tells his story and shows some measure of emotion, the first question the facilitator will ask is, “How DOES that make you feel?” Rather than reporting an emotion, the person may in fact report a belief —that may be his heart belief. It is possible that the person might respond with something like, “I feel like I am a worthless piece of trash and have no value!” This sounds like a self-identity heart belief —and it may actually be, but we are not yet in position to ask the Lord for His perspective.
Since the person did not reveal feeling something, we would ask the first EMOTION Box question again, “How does that make you feel?” We would continue asking this first question until the person reports feeling an emotion. Once an emotion is stated, the next question to ask is “What comes to your mind as you focus on what you are feeling?”
Before we offer up the belief to the Lord for His perspective, we must be in the right place or position to ask. In this illustration, the current memory is lacking vital information needed to proceed with offering the belief to the Lord.
Not just any memory will do.
There may be many memories in which the person may have used the lie-based belief to interpret his life situation (as with the boss’s criticism), but the right memory is the one that answers a vital question; “How did I come to believe the lie that I currently believe that is causing me to feel what I am feeling?” Because this is so, without the perspective and context that the earlier memory can offer, it is very unlikely that anything would happen if the lie-based belief was offered up at this time.
Even though it might appear to be more reasonable to go directly to the BELIEF box with the lie in tow, this is not how it works! The heart belief is only a part of what needs to be understood and offered to the Lord. We also need to understand how we came to believe what we currently believe and therefore, feel what we are feeling. Without this information, we may falsely assume that the boss’ criticism is why we believe what we believe; or even why feel what we feel. To come to this conclusion is in and of itself also a falsehood.
When we say something like, “You make me so _______,” “My work stresses me out,” or “I am worried because of my financial situation,” we are professing a falsehood. Nothing or no one can make us feel anything that we feel. What we believe is causing us to feel all that we feel. We did not come to the belief we believe in the current situation, we are merely using a long held belief to interpret the moment.
Even if we understood the principle that we “feel whatever we believe,” and that nothing in our present situation is causing our emotional response, how we came to believe what we believe and why we still believe it remains an unknown. Knowing why we believe what we believe is critically important. And it is impossible to know “why” apart from examining a memory of when we came to believe what we currently believe.
Important Note: “Wake Up Johnny!”
It is not necessary to remember the absolute “first time” we believed what we believe. However, the memory needs to be one that accurately answers the question, “How or why did I come to believe what I believe?” For example, if every morning from age three to sixteen Johnny’s mother woke him up with the words, “Wake up you lazy worthless piece of trash!” He may not need to remember the first time this occurred in order to understand how he came to believe that he was worthless. Although he may be able to identify the fact that he believes that he is worthless, without the “context” offered by a memory of his mother saying those hurtful words, Johnny would be unable to rightly explain why he believes that he is worthless.
memory helps us understand why we believe what we believe
The back door bursts opens, and a crying child rushes into the house where her mother is cooking lunch. The little girl cries out, “Mommy, I feel terrible!” The mother will naturally ask, “Why? What is wrong?” If the child answered with, “Because I am stupid!” Most likely the mother will then ask, “WHY do you think that?” (This is an important question that needs an answer. The mother is wanting to know how her child came to this wrong conclusion so she can rightly correct her child’s conclusion and bring appropriate correction and reinterpretation.
In similar fashion, in TPM, we seek to answer this same question. We are essentially asking, “How did we come to believe the things that we currently believe which are causing us to feel what we currently feel?” And our current situation will not likely answer this question!
If the child were to say, “I don’t know why I believe I am stupid. I just am!” the mother is left with a void that demands an answer. Is it possible that the child was happily playing outside when suddenly, out of the blue, came to believe that she was stupid and then felt terrible? Something had to have occurred; some mental process had to have run through her mind that caused her to come to this wrong conclusion. Her mother asking “why” is the logical and necessary question to ask.
The mother could attempt to correct the lie-based belief without first knowing why her child believes it by saying, “Honey, you are not stupid. You have value with me,” and sending the child back out to play. Nevertheless, the void left by the unanswered question remains; how the child came to believe what she believes was not addressed. However, if the child says something like, “I was trying to color a picture in my coloring book, and Mary Beth said that I was stupid because I couldn’t stay within the lines. I can’t do anything right! I’m just stupid!”
Now the mother can act. Armed with this information she can bring intelligent reasoning and truth to the discussion. She can provide the child with a “higher” perception of the situation. If the child trusts the mother and believes that she holds a higher level and authority of knowledge than Mary Beth, she may bring correction that will persuade her child to let go of the newly acquired false belief. (See the Trust and Authority Principle)
This mother might say, “Your coloring outside the lines shows that you are creative and are not limited by what others think. Mary Beth’s opinion is not the truth, and it does not determine your value. What she says is not who or what you are. You are special and have great worth with me.” If the child trusts her and believes that she is speaking a higher truth than Mary Beth’s, she will be persuaded of the new belief the mother has shared.
The mother can speak this truth into the situation because of the “Trust and Authority Principle” and because there is a context for how the child came to believe what she believed. And it is in this context, armed with both WHAT she believed and WHY she believed it, that the truth can take hold. The same is true in a ministry session. The MEMORY Box is the part of the TPM process where we come to understand the reason for why we believe the things that we believe. It is also where we trust the Spirit to speak a truth that is of higher authority than our own. Because of this He can persuade us of the truth.
Failing A Test but Not Knowing Why
ILLUSTRATION: This whole concept might also be compared to a student who completed a test using a question booklet and a separate answer sheet.
After the test is graded, the student is handed his answer sheet marked up with the teacher’s red grading pen. He would immediately know that he did not do well! However, he would not know why he selected the wrong answers. He would be unable to know where he went wrong.
And he may even be able to see which questions he got wrong (#1, #3, #4, etc.) and what the correct answers were (if the teacher provided them), but without the question booklet it would be impossible to rightly understand why he answered them wrong or how to arrive at the correct answers.
And in TPM, we may be able to identify the lie (the wrong answer) but not know how we came to believe this “wrong answer” (without memory). The student needs the question book so that he can understand the red marks on his answer sheet. Likewise, we not only need our wrong answers corrected (lies replaced with truth), but we also need to understand how we came to believe what we believe.
Memory is a complex process.
This study is not the place to try to explain all that it may entail. For the purposes of TPM, memory is understood to be all that I remember. Initially what I remember is the raw data that I take in through my five senses. This is the “content” of memory- that is what I remember having happened. e.g. “My dad threw me down the stairs.” This raw data is void of interpretation. It is simply a record of what I experienced. What follows next is my understanding of why what happened, occurred. Here is where I explain why what happened occurred, by drawing from anything that I might already remember and believe and applying it to the situation. (i.e. “My dad threw me down the stairs (what happened) because I could never make him happy.” (Why it happened.)
This explanation draws from anything that might have been a part of the current situation as well as any information gained from earlier life experiences. Finally, I will interpret what happened, and why I believe it happened, and thus, establish a heart belief. “My dad threw me down the stairs (what happened) because I could never make him happy (explanation for why it happened). Therefore, I am worthless.” (heart belief) All of this makes up the complete memory –that is, all that we remember concerning this event.
So then, memory is made up of all that we remember, to include the content of what happened, the explanation that we ascribed to it (or why we believe what happened, happened) as well as the memory of the heart belief that we remember believing at the time. However, the memory of believing “I am worthless” is not the same as the current belief I hold “I am worthless.” One is a memory, while the other is current and active. Even though they are stated the same, they are two separate beliefs (one is memory content, and the other is currently held belief).
It is the “current” belief that produces the emotions that we feel and not the memory of having believed it.
So we are not exploring a memory in order to find the heart belief, but rather we use the memory to help us understand what we currently believe that is causing us to feel what we feel. The memory helps to answer the question, “How did we come to believe what we currently believe?”
When what I currently believe is transformed with truth from the Holy Spirit, and no longer reflects what I believed in the past (the lie), I will have His peace and proper perspective (even though I would still remember believing the lie). So then,it is important to understand the distinction between what is believed (current) and what was believed (memory).
Our current heart belief is not a part of our memory, even though we can remember believing it at the time it was established. Our current heart belief took a life of its own and became our ever present current belief. What we remember believing is memory, whereas, what we believe is current; the substance from which I continually interpret life that is happening in my present.
It is important to know that no one remembers what they remember with perfect accuracy, but only through a very limited perception. Therefore, what we remember happening, (Memory content) and what we believe about “why” what happened, happened, can be flawed. Nevertheless, with TPM, it is not what we remember that we are concerned about. Rather, our focus is on the heart belief we established in the context of what we remember. Heart beliefs are the final conclusions we came to embrace based upon both “what happened” and “why we believe it happened.”
Our perception as to why what happened, happened, is based upon the assumptions and conclusions that we made in the moment. As the person walks through his memory during a ministry session, the assumptions and conclusions he came to will typically surface before the heart belief is exposed. Rarely will a person voice his heart belief without first surfacing layers of assumptions and conclusions. The heart belief is usually identified only after what is remembered to have happened and why what happened was believed to have occurred.
Example: “My dad threw me down the stairs (What/Memory Content) because I could never make him happy (assumption/conclusion); therefore, I am worthless.” (Heart belief)
Assumptions and Conclusions
In an earlier article we discussed assumptions and conclusions. Assumptions and or conclusions are the reasons we established to explain why we believe what happened, happened. They are not heart beliefs, but rather how we understand what happened or our explanation for it. During the actual life experience — that is now recorded as memory– the person looked for a reason for what was happening. His perceptions and understanding of why what was happening, was happening, are the assumptions and/or conclusions that he formulated.
For example, I may remember that my father didn’t spend time with me (what happened/memory content). And from this raw data, I might determine that he did not spend time with me because he hated me, I could not please him, and nothing I did was good enough for him, etc. (This would be my perception and understanding of why it happened or my “assumptions and conclusions”). These do not define my identity or my state of being. The assumptions and conclusions that we formulate are not even necessarily false, some or all may, in fact, be the truth. Nevertheless, our understanding of “why what happened, occurred,” is the basis for how we came to believe the heart belief.
If the man mentioned earlier (who was criticized by his boss) focused on how he feels because he believes he is a worthless piece of trash, he might remember an earlier experience where he felt this same way before. In the context of remembering the earlier experience the “what” (memory content), “why” (assumptions and conclusions), a lie-based heart belief may be identified.
Man: “I remember my dad pushing me down the stairs and him laughing when I hit the bottom.” (This is WHAT he remembered having happened –the memory content.)
Facilitator: “How did that make you feel?”
Man: “I felt rejected and alone.”
Facilitator: “Why did you feel that way?”
Man: “Because nothing I ever did was good enough for him and he hated me.” (This is why the man believed what happened, happened. This is an assumption or conclusion.)
Facilitator: “How did that make you feel?”
Man: “Like I am worthless. I have no value.” (This is potentially the heart belief that he embraced as an outcome of what he perceived to have happened (memory content) and his perception of why it happened (assumptions/conclusions).
In this fuller context of what the man believes happened (memory content) and why he believes it happened (assumptions and conclusions), the man is in position to receive both the truth that displaces the lie-based heart belief as well as a heavenly perspective of what he remembers to have happened. When this belief is offered up to the Lord he may be granted the truth that he is loved of God as well as realize that his father’s opinion did not determine his worth. He may also see his father in a different light; broken and in need of God’s healing grace. As an outcome of this, the man may feel compassion and forgive his father.
However, if the man was given the truth of his value in the context of his boss’s criticism he would have only a portion of the insight that he needs. As was illustrated earlier, he has the graded “answer sheet” for the test taken, and he has been given the correct answers, but does not have the question sheet to understand why his answers were marked incorrect or why the correct answers are right (or how he came to the answers he selected). He could be given the truth that he had value and that he wasn’t worthless, but without the memory he cannot know how he came to believe the lie in the first place (which also serves as the reason for why he still believes it).
Without the original context in which the lie was established, the person is left with only the current situation for explaining why he believes what he believes.
So then, if the person voices what appears to be a heart belief in the context of his current situation and the facilitator attempts to offer it up to the Lord, it is improbable that the Lord will provide truth. (I say “improbable” in that I do not want to place any limitation on what God may or may not do.) However, if the Lord were to grant truth to the man in the context of struggling with his boss’s criticism, doing so would leave him either falsely believing that his boss was the reason he felt what he felt, or it would leave him lacking an answer to the unanswered question; “How did I come to believe what I currently believe?” Without the right memory, this information is unavailable and cannot be known.
Let me create a case to recapitulate what I am saying.
Person: “What my wife said to me last night was mean and uncalled for!”
Facilitator: “How did that make you feel?” (First question in the EMOTION box.)
Person: “I feel like I am a worthless piece of trash. I have no value or purpose and should have never been born. It is clear to me that I AM NOTHING BUT JUNK!”
If we take what has occurred here at face value, it seems pretty clear that the person has a heart belief of worthlessness. However, here again, we are missing important information. He has not acknowledged why he believes that he is worthless or how he came to believe it in the first place. Because he is missing the reason that he came to believe his worthlessness, he may assume that his wife’s behavior is what caused him to believe what he believes; and thus why he feel what he feels. So then, both issues need to be addressed; what he believes (the lie) and why he believes what he believes (via memory).
So then, memory helps you to answer the question, “How did I come to believe what I currently believe?” It also helps you to rightly identify what you remember to have happened (memory content) and why you believe what happened, happened and thus, identify your current lie-based heart belief.
Without memory, it IS possible to know the heart belief we currently believe, but not possible to know how we came to believe or why we believe what we believe. Without knowing this there is a real temptation to assume our current situation is the reason for our belief and how we feel. That in and of itself is a lie.
A Final Note regarding the Emotion box
The EMOTION box is NOT the place for dealing with heart belief. There are only two questions to ever ask in this location in the process and neither of them has anything to do with belief. The two goals of the EMOTION box are first, to make sure that the person being prayed with is feeling his emotion and is focused on his feeling, and secondly, that he is anticipating that his mind will surface a memory (past event) naturally without having to go look for one. The second questions reveals whether a solution is engaged.
Even if the heart belief has been rightly identified, resist any temptation to offer the belief up to the Lord in this stage of the ministry process. Rather, have the person focus on what he is feeling and allow the God created natural process of association to do what it was designed to do; surface a related memory. Work through all of the assumptions and conclusions that surface while remembering the memory and identify the currently believed heart belief and then ask the Lord for His perspective.