A lot of people are guilty of saying and believing the popular phrase, “If you forgot what you were going to say, it probably wasn’t important in the first place.” Not only is the concept that one forgetting something means it’s unimportant a neurotypical concept, it’s also just plain rude.
For people with mental illnesses and disabilities like ADD and Alzheimer’s, poor memory is just a part of everyday life. I have ADD and I can literally forget where I’m walking to when I go outside. As in, I will have no idea why I stepped outside in the first place when, as I will soon remember, I was actually walking to a class, a study session or pharmacy to pick up my medication. One time, I was going to open a box on the floor but realized I needed scissors to do so. I got up to grab the scissors that were only a few steps to my right. When I woke up the next morning and looked on the floor, there it was: a closed box. To this day I don’t know what happened during the few steps it took to grab the scissors. Whatever happened, it did not include opening the box. I give these examples to say one thing: I can forget anything, whether it’s important or not.
One time, I was at a therapy session and forgot what I was going to tell my therapist. My therapist proceeded to say the infamous phrase, “If you forgot what you were going to say, it probably wasn’t important in the first place.” Of course, my therapist knows I have ADD. This was only one of the reasons I couldn’t believe that he told me that. The main reason was that I was at a therapy session; How unimportant could something I was going to say be? Not only did my therapist use a neurotypical concept, but it was a completely inappropriate place to say such a thing altogether.
Even if someone doesn’t have a medical reason that causes them to have poor memory, the concept that forgetting something means it’s unimportant is just very rude and can make people feel bad. When people open their mouths to say something, they usually feel like it’s important to some extent. People don’t usually open their mouths with the intent to spew nonsense. Therefore, it’s rude to invalidate the significance of what someone was going to say even before they say it. That can make someone feel bad about themselves by making them feel unimportant. As a collective, we need to completely get rid of the phrase as well as the concept that forgetting something makes it unimportant. We need to stop shutting people down.