Our Past Has No Power To Define Us Without Our Permission
Thoughts of what was and what used to be can trap us and steal us away from the life we are living now.
Most of the time these thoughts race around the negative experiences in our past. They can even render us immobilized emotionally.
They prevent us from moving on and thriving in our life.
Shaking off the effects of bad memories that include betrayals and emotional and physical trauma is not easy. But it is both an act of will and an act of love toward ourselves.
It doesn’t matter whether the context of the experiences we have had are accurate in our memory — it matters that they feel accurate to us. They are the reality we recall, and so they are part of what has shaped our outlook, our perspective, our dreams, and our beliefs. In my book Voices from the Old Earth I give a story in the first chapter that describes this exactly. The character narrating it is named Gideon:
“I once watched a child fall into the water, and his father made no move to help. ‘He’ll float,’ the father said, ‘and then I’ll save him,’ for he lived, you see, by the laws of physics. And of course the child did float and his father pulled him out of the water and he was fine. Those were the father’s laws, and so they worked for him. For the child, that terribly rational perception wasn’t true, just like his mother’s useless panic, which worked for her. What was true for the child was that no one came right away. That is what he remembered, what became a law in his life.”
Hannah clapped her hands together.
“Exactly. Gideon has described it perfectly. There are laws that govern everything, but we make them. The only reality is our own perception!”
He turned toward Hannah with a blank face, so empty of expression, and it frightened me, the soft voice he used as he spoke.
“I was that child.”
Yet to live well we must be free of the power the past holds over us. It is the human experience — this matter of finding a way out of whatever has given us pain, grief, and deep sadness. We must let the negative past, which is after all only known to us through memory now, explode into a…