This elderly woman is Marta C. Gonzálezová, and she was once a prima ballerina in New York. In this photo she had late-stage Alzheimer’s so her capacity to interact with her environment was greatly compromised. Her ability to communicate, her mobility, and her ability to remember recent and past memories had all but disappeared. She was wheelchair bound in these last months of her life, relying on others to feed and care for her.

However, when a carer placed headphones over her ears and played Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the haunting melody triggered a strong emotional memory deep within her. She intuitively raised her arms started to perform the choreography. The joy of performing on stage as a young ballerina aroused her memory once again. These memories were only accessible through emotions that had been activated by the music. Watch the touching video of her here.

This is one example of the power of emotion. Emotions can be stored in our brains even when we can’t consciously remember an experience. These feelings can arise again when something in our environment re-triggers our emotions, and all of this can occur without our conscious awareness. This is why Marta was able to perform the choreography: the music entered her brain through a hidden emotional pathway, to unlock memories that were not part of her conscious awareness. Marta passed away a few months after this video was filmed.

Emotions can unlock subconscious memories.

This is why we need to be aware of how we make our children feel. Because one day they will be adults and though they may not remember what we did, the emotions we made them feel will remain inside them. We have the power to influence their conscious and subconscious emotional memories. When we use this power in the right way by making them feel safe and loved, this sets the tone for healthy parent-child relationships, both now and in adulthood.

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