In my practice I see many people who are looking to deepen their self-reflective gaze in order to better understand themselves and how they interact with the world. Although everything in the universe happens for a reason and there are no coincidences, it is not always easy to see how we are related to it all. It is important it remember who we are at the time we are looking. That is not so easy to discern as many of us, I am sure, can attest to. My portrait process is special in that it allows the subject that unique ability to look at themselves from the outside, as the observer.
When I get to certain point in our sessions where I feel there has been a number of significant things shared, this can include deaths in the family, major triumphs or traumas, goals past and present, and a host of other sorts of interactions with the world whether they be in the past, future or present, I have a host of questions that could be asked. The one that I get great responses from is "What is your earliest memory?" It has been the case that knowing what the earliest memory is helps considerably with where conflicts between belief systems arise.
The earliest memory is interesting because I, personally, do not care if what they tell me is actually their earliest memory or not, what I care about is the memory that comes up. In my work what is perceive is way more important than what would be "fact," because that is the world in which they are living and creating, fact is usually just a perception from an outside source. We primarily live in a world built by faulty memories. Memories make up the world around us much more than the world around us does. Everything that is of the world is neutral, we define good/bad beautiful/ugly and so no. Nothing has a definition other than what it happens to be, and neither do we. People choose to be "something"
We choose to be angry, or happy. We choose to be grateful or greedy. It is easy to say the world and our surroundings made us who we are, and in effect you would be absolutely correct in saying that. On the other hand if you decided to choose differently you can change your situation, but it is not easy. When you do accomplish that change, and you say I made myself this way, again you would be correct in saying that. Neither of those statements, "The world made me" or "I made me" are true mind you, but you would be correct in making them.
The earliest memory question does a lot of things, first it allows the person being asked to say anything because I, as the facilitator, could never prove or disprove an answer. It also allows subconscious links to past memories on subjects that we are covering. We all have specific memories that are very important to us that, for whatever reason, are vivid and clear, but others involved in the memory don't recall at all. For my own health and self reflection, I take note at what I may have learned about myself or others, these have rarely been positive things. I feel that, for myself, if a memory lingers it is against my nature and may be a place that needs clearing. So many signs are stored inside us and it doesn't always, if ever,take a huge Ah-Ha moment to get beyond them, sometimes it just takes recognizing them and taking note when we give in to them.
It has seemed like everyone, when asked, has known their earliest memory prior to being asked it, but it always has ties to some of the biggest conflict areas in their current lives. Its a difficult task trying to figure out the brain and its relationship to the universe, which is why I do not question the answers I hear. They may only be the answer for the time I ask it, and that is fine, the is perfect actually, because then it is honest, and that is what facilitation requires.
What are some conflict areas you are sorting out? Put out there, like for myself I value what I do but I do not have a drive to exchange it for money but that is a must moving forward. now ask yourself what is your earliest memory, for me at the moment it seems to be my father no being home when I was a child. For me that shows that connecting with loved ones and money, my father was always "working," do not mix. For me to sort through that conflict is going to be important and to be sure I understand that I can just as easily connect with others while getting paid fairly as I do when I do not. I can also donate 1 full session to those who can not afford them for every full session I get paid for. This is in line with my desire to help and be open and available.