Memory, like mind, is not always reliable.
Mind uses coloured interpretation, based upon imperfect sensations, often it uses incorrect reasoning, and it builds assumption on assumption.
Memory is prone to contamination, and indoctrination. Apart from 10 or so uniquely gifted individuals on mother earth, who can remember everything as it happened hour per hour, most of us only memorise what we find worth remembering. We memorise it after the event has tunnelled through our interpreting mind.
Memory always sees past, and never the present. It cannot see the future at all. It sees by the eyes of the past, it remembers the interpretation of your past mind. If your mind has improved or the opposite, your re-enactment of the past will be double coloured: interpreted before memorization, interpreted when recalled.
So how can we see/notice any improvement in ourselves?
Well, there is the diary. We can see how our reasoning has changed over time, by reading our past.
There is also the teacher: but beware, her eyes are contaminated too.
Then there are others.
I went to a customer a couple of years ago, where I had only been a couple of times before, and that was a long time before (like 5 – 10 years earlier). He noticed how I had become a lot less tense between these two events. There was a contrast, because of the time lapse.
In my last visit to Switzerland, now 2 years ago, I noticed how the snow had moved up a lot. I had not been there in 20 years, and the image of memory did not match reality.
People in Switzerland needed photographs from the past to see that difference. The gradual change really blinded them.
People who live closer to you, and who might witness a gradual change, will most often not perceive a change at all. Once they have made that conceptual picture of you in their minds, that concept will colour all their later perceptions. Moreover, this works both ways. You will behave the way they expect you too. If you are expected to be angry often, and by hard work you have been able to get angry only 3 times out of 10 when triggered, opposed to the 9/10 from the past, you still get angry ‘often’, and the conceptual ‘you’ in the other will not be adapted. The improvement has to be very significant, and it will take them years before they will really notice the difference (if ever).
This can be very disappointing in relationships, when you really have made an effort to change, and when that change is not noticed or even wavered away.