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The fragrance of a bad memory!

Dear Lucy: I have this co-worker that I don’t especially like who wears cologne that I hate! ... Can I just ask her to stop wearing it around me?
 Lucy Shaw

When we were cave men, we had a brain designed to focus on survival! Whenever something in our environment was a threat to our safety in any way, the brain went into fight, flight or freeze mode.  

Most of us have heard about fighting or running, but few of us know about how a memory gets frozen and becomes a trigger for how we respond to anything that looks, feels, tastes or smells like that memory of an unsafe time. It doesn’t matter whether the experience was really unsafe. What matters is how you felt about it!  This week’s letter is a great example of this and I hope it helps you.

Dear Lucy: I have this co-worker that I don’t especially like who wears cologne that I hate! When I smell it on her or anyone else I get mad. I feel so mean and stupid over this but I just can’t help it. Can I just ask her to stop wearing it around me?

Dear Reader: Well, since you are not the “cologne police,” I suggest you don’t ask her to stop wearing her investment. And while what you are feeling seems irrational to you and others, here is something to help.

When I was a child, my mother always used Ponds Face Crème. Whenever I hugged her, I could always smell it and it has remained a trigger of good feelings for me to this very day.

On the other hand, I remember going to a family farm in Mississippi with my grandmother one summer and eating super fresh yard produce for the first time in my life. My great aunt made a pound cake of fresh yard eggs and freshly churned butter. I ate a piece and threw up for days, only being able to eat bananas for the rest of the visit. To this day, I can think about this and smell that cake and go into a panic!  I also don’t eat raw bananas if I can avoid them.  In fact, just writing about this gives me an irrational urge to puke!  For a child, puking uncontrollably is the ultimate of not being safe, especially when people are laughing at your “weak city stomach”!

So, here’s the deal: what negative, unresolved memory does this woman’s cologne evoke in you?  Is there something about her that rationally or irrationally threatens your sense of safety? Maybe it’s something to do with her or someone else who wears the same fragrance. Or maybe it’s something negative that happened where this was the prevalent odor.  

Frozen memories contain the sounds, smells, tastes and feelings from the moment they occur. This memory of yours associated with this cologne may be getting out of hand. Track it down in your memory, resolve it and give everybody, (including yourself) a break!

Looking for the fragrance of love,


(Check out Lucy Shaw’s website at http://www.heartworks4u.com.  Send your questions to her by U.S. mail to: Heartworks4U, LLC; 4646 Poplar Ave. Ste 201, Memphis, TN 38117 or by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You may also contact her for a free 20-minute consultation.)

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