“In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it.” — Shakti Gawain
Many psychologists have spoken about how past experiences can affect your life today. Did you know that your current feelings and personality traits can affect your current behaviors? The experiences we are having today were likely shaped by the past events you have been through. Events in your childhood or early adulthood have shaped the way you think, act, and interact with people close to you.
Memory is a tricky thing. Our past, present, and future are intimately linked by our memories. The brain is not true recording device that can recall any moment in time and accurately depict what happened. Our minds play tricks on us. Memories are heavily influenced and based on feelings we had surrounding the event or experience.
Most people can remember at least some painful experiences in their lives. Likely the experiences that you had when you were a child are dramatically impacting your life right now. Even the ones that might seem irrelevant or insignificant. If we don’t become more aware of the connection between our past to the present then it will keep affecting our futures.
At a TED conference, psychologist Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner and one of the founders of behavioral economics, gave a talk on why our experiences and our memories can be so different. Scientists now know that the same brain processes we use to remember the past can also help us plan for the future and imagine different possible scenarios.
Your past brought you to where you are today. We have all heard statements such as “everything happens for a reason” or “you learn lessons from every experience” but what if you don’t like what happened to you. How can you change your outlook for the future? Here are a few suggestions include practicing self-talk, creating a peaceful environment, being mindful about how you live, not living in the past, but looking towards the future. How do you get over those traumatic events?
Practicing self-talk reinforces the positive side of things like a glass half full, rather than half empty. Life is ten percent what happens to us, but 90 percent how we choose to handle it. Start today by choosing to see the good rather than the bad. You can overwrite your past with new experiences and form better memories to recall in the future. Even the most positive of people have self-doubt. That is normal. I’m just suggesting to find a way to release the pain and come back to a place of positive.
Create an environment of beauty, peace and order. The lifestyle we choose to create and live is significantly impacted by our sleep patterns, stress levels, eating habits, and our ability to communication with others. Some of the tough times we have had can increase our everyday stress. Stress can have a pretty big effect on you and keep you from thinking clearly.
Live mindfully. Each day with purpose and know that the work you are getting up to do is important. Your life is full of meaning, just need to look for it. Be mindful of your surroundings and people you meet. You may miss an opportunity if you are not in the moment and present. Take time to breathe and enjoy nature. Be kind to yourself and others. Make the next best decision for the choices you are given.
You are not your past. Your past does not define your future. You can change if you want to, live differently if you desire, and make a new life however you see fit at any age. You do not have to do what you have always done. You have the strength inside yourself to reinvent your life.
Look forward to the future. The only thing we can count on is death, taxes, and change. The world is constantly changing. Stop resisting it. How you adapt to change is a predictor of how well you will do in the future. Be open-minded and look forward to something new each day. Start to create the future in little ways to promote your life before the change occurs.
The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you’ll see their flaws. That’s just the way it is. That is why most marriages fail, why children are abandoned, why friendships may not last. You might think you love someone until you see the way they act when they’re out of money or under pressure or hungry or sick.
Vulnerability is a rare gem to be held delicately. Remember those that are suffering don’t wish to bring you down. They simply are surviving. Notice that survivorship and take one moment to encourage them. It could make all the difference in the world.
Clearly, the future has ways of surprising us, and nobody can be completely prepared for what the future will bring. But, it is important to recognize that the only way you can plan for the future is by drawing on your memories of the past. Envisioning your future in a specific location gives you the best chance of helping yourself succeed.
Mother Teresa said it best, “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives, be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”