We are the sum total of our experience. And undeniably, it is our past… as well as our essential spirit–that informs our character, whether that past is recent or centuries gone by. The altered state a-ha’s I’ve had about possible past lives, the insights I’ve had on acid in my twenties (except for that one really paranoid trip where I couldn’t talk for three hours,) and the wit from gifted therapists and wise girlfriends has helped me to explain the fears and flaws that I’ve been dragging with me for years.
It is essential to whole living that you get to the source of your pain and screwed up choices. What happened in your childhood or another life informs patterns in your current reality.
But sooner or later, you’ve simply got to get over using yesterday to explain today’s behavior.
Decide to just get over it. Let it be that simple.
For most of us who had normally dysfunctional upbringings (I’m not talking about suffering exceptional atrocities or repetitive abuses,) our past is no excuse to continue being a flake, a tyrant, obnoxiously needy, or a rage-babe.
Look, we’re all terrific for going to therapy, for having past life insights, and reading Wayne Dyer. Yeah for the New Age. Really. But knowing why you’re so screwed up is only half the journey.
“My father never told me I’m pretty, so now I’m fat.” “I was a pilgrim burned at the stake in my past life so now I’m afraid to voice my opinions.” “My mother was overly emotional so I suppress my feelings for fear of being like her.”
Choose to let it be done.
I once dated a guy who thought he was Jack Evolved because he’d done enough time in therapy to know that his parents’ affair-riddled marriage rendered him commitment-phobic. “Babe,” he’d start to explain, “I’m just repeating my father’s behavior, it’s like, deep stuff.” Uh-huh. Like I care why you’re a two timing narcissist. Maybe a few more hours of therapy would have unearthed the courage in him to be a good boyfriend. I’ll take faithful over self-helped any day.
Therapy, yes. Strategy, yes.
It is immensely, undeniably valuable to excavate the origin of your fear and your pain. It’s down right essential. But when you start using that awareness as an excuse to stay stuck, you become the worst kind of victim.
This is one of the potential problems with talk therapy. The rehashing of who-done-you-wrong and how it screwed you up could be better spent on making a plan to take full responsibility for creating a future that does right by your tremendous potential. I think after some incredible therapy, most people could do with a kick-butt life coach that helps them strategize and be accountable to their dreams.
An acquaintance and I were talking about her relationship with her step dad. It was no secret that they’d had a rough ride and there had been plenty said and done to make them both bitter. She was now working for him. I saw them laughing together, being affectionate, respectful.
“So… what changed?” I asked her. “You two were barely speaking at one point.” “We just decided to get over it,” she shrugged. “You know, just let it go. So we did.”
Maybe enlightenment is a decision that has little to do with the past.