I hope you don’t mind if I share a few of my more abstract thoughts with you today. I hope that sharing those thoughts will get you thinking. I really hope that I stitched this all together in a way that actually makes some sort of sense. Today’s post got kind of long in a hurry. It is an interesting way to look at how we view things. Certainly not science. Certainly nothing that I expect to change the world. In fact, it won’t offend me in the slightest if you move on and come back tomorrow. For those of you who do stay, let’s get a little crazy together, because there are some pretty awesome things to think about.
You see, because of the way we talk, sometimes I feel like none of us exist.
We clump our entire lives into time periods. We use words like “yesterday”, “today”, and “tomorrow” to do it. We talk about “next month” or “next year”. We love to discuss the painful “yesterdays” of our lives. We dwell on what was and wasn’t. We talk about what we wish could be. It is very rare to find somebody who doesn’t do this. Somebody who doesn’t constantly combine all of life into past, present, and future.
We get frustrated when bedtime comes and we realize that our kids have been neglected all day. We promise ourselves that tomorrow we’ll do better. Tomorrow we’ll do something fun. Tomorrow we will not end the day feeling this way.
We watch our houses fill with clutter, discouraged as they pass the point of no return, knowing that our molehills have officially turned into mountains. We vow that tomorrow, or this weekend, or next week we are going to dive in and make our home sparkle brighter than a vampire in the sunlight.
We work to perfect our nasty tempers. We try to be more kind. We try to be more loving. Despite trying, we lose our cool, and say something awful to someone we love. So, we vow yet again that tomorrow we will start over. Tomorrow we will be perfect in it. Tomorrow anger won’t be an issue for us.
With our diets (which I am very much against), we are frustrated with ourselves for every choice that led to those extra pounds on our hips and bellies. We feel discouraged at the effort it’s going to take to rid ourselves of the excess. We make a plan for the health we will start to afford ourselves tomorrow.
We believe that our addictions of yesterday will be our struggles tomorrow. And sure enough, they usually are.
We play the part of the victim in our failed relationships. We vow that somewhere there is somebody who will treat us right. Who will love us. Who will accept us for who we are. And, by damn, someday we’ll find them. We hope it will be tomorrow.
We didn’t exercise like we’d hoped. The events of life got in our way today, so we declare to ourselves that tomorrow we will not fail. Then, as it always does, tomorrow becomes today, and we find ourselves making further promises of improvement. Our statements and timelines turn from tomorrow, into next week, into next month, and then the holidays hit, at which point it turns into next year. Next year comes and we are more determined than ever. We are also fatter than ever.
Improvement is always on the schedule for tomorrow. Change is always taking place some time in the future. It’s human nature.
I’m going to say something that will certainly be disputed by some. I am going to say something that may seem absolutely ridiculous or impossible. Bear with me for a moment, and I promise I’ll tie this all together somehow. Here goes…
There is no such thing as the past. It doesn’t exist. It happened, but it doesn’t actually exist anymore.
There is also no such thing as the future. It doesn’t exist.
The only thing that will ever exist, and I mean ever, is now.
Think about it. What is “the past”? What is yesterday? Many of you will answer that everything we see right now is due to the events of the past. Everything we are, is because of what has happened to us five minutes ago, five days ago, five years ago, or five decades ago. I can see why we would think that.
I also think there could never be a more self-damaging and self-limiting way to think.
I am me. Right now. Period. You are you. Right now. Period.
Everything we think we know, everything we think we see, everything we believe we feel, taste, smell, or hear, everything we “remember” (our pasts), everything we want to happen (our futures), everything that has ever existed or will ever exist, only exists right now. All of these things are nothing more than electric signals being passed through our brains and bodies, right now. It is all energy flowing through us right now. “The past” exists only in our minds. We are the ones who bring it into reality. We are the ones who bring it into the present. We are the ones who make it “real”.
Energy does not care about the past. Energy does not care about the future. Energy simply is.
Every moment of every day, we decide what to make that energy inside of us do. We decide what we want it to make us think. We decide which cells in the brain it should hit, thus deciding what past events or future hopes and dreams we would like to have enter our thoughts.
Allow me to demonstrate. Right now, think about a yellow rubber duck.
Now think about that same rubber duck, only this time make it blue.
Now striped like a rainbow.
Now, another color, any color.
It wasn’t very difficult, was it? You see, we do indeed choose our thoughts. We choose our realities. We choose the images in those thoughts. And, usually, we choose to let certain memory cells in our brains dictate what our thoughts should be.
Had I simply said “think about a rubber duck”, most of you would have thought of a yellow rubber duck on your own. Some of you would have thought about another color, dictated by your memory of what rubber ducks have always been to you.
Had I said “think about a black rubber duck”, a black rubber duck would have been your first thought. There would have been no need to think of a yellow rubber duck first because changing things in our minds is effortless when what we’re changing doesn’t really matter to us.
Had your father scolded you as a child for drawing a picture of a black rubber duck, and told you that rubber ducks are never black, and made you feel horrible for believing that rubber ducks could be black, the thought of your father would have come into your mind instead of the image of a black rubber duck when I asked you to think of it. Immediately, your thought would be to question whether I, the requester, was a moral person. Whether I was wrong. Whether I was spreading wrong. It would have made you question whether or not you should keep reading. It would have made you question whether or not you could read anything I were to write in the future.
And why? It’s simple. Your “past” dictated to you what you should feel “now”. We often don’t stop to question if whatever thought we just thought was valid. Whether it was something we want defining our actions right now. Does it really matter if a rubber duck is black? Does it really matter if it is yellow, green, purple, or orange?
There is always something in our “pasts” that dictates everything we believe and feel.
Something in our “past” makes us believe that we can’t have a BMI over 24.99 and still be worth something.
Something in our “past” makes us believe that a dirty house makes us not worthy of visitors in our homes.
Something in our “past” speaks to us, haunts us, and forces us to think and do things we probably otherwise wouldn’t have thought or done. All the time. Every single day.
Every emotion we have is almost always controlled by our “past”. Do we laugh and not laugh about certain things? Yes, because something in our “past” has told us it’s okay or not okay. Do we get angry about certain things? Yes, because something from our “past” is driving us to ire. Do we simply not care about certain things? Absolutely, because nothing from our “past” is demanding us to put importance on whatever it is we don’t care about.
Why do we let the “past” have its way with us? Don’t we get it? The past doesn’t exist. Everything we think is the past, is nothing more than a thought right now. Energy happening, right now.
This is to our ultimate and incredible benefit because it means that we are in control of things. We are behind the reins.
On Saturday I got into a debate with my baby sister (she’s 20) about what year my family moved to their current city of residence. She insisted it was 1991. I knew, with everything inside of me, that it was the year preceding. I went as far as to joke that maybe we should all believe the kid who was ten years old when it happened instead of the baby that couldn’t walk or talk yet.
She held her ground though, and pointed out some indisputable evidence that she was not mistaken. Her math was correct. It was impossible for me to be right. My family did move there in 1991. I have told people differently for almost 20 years. Yet, what I told them was reality to me. It was truth. It was “my past”, and I assumed it always would be.
And in one instant, that yellow rubber duck turned black for me. In less than a moment, the energy in my mind changed its course and “my past” was something completely different. But the past didn’t change. The energy in mind simply presented itself to me differently.
I know that was a long exploration (and personal theory) of what the past, and reality, is and isn’t, but I feel that if you can wrap your brain around the fact that “the past” might not really exist, then you can also wrap your brain around the fact that “time” might not really exist. And if time doesn’t really exist, you have only one thing. The energy happening right now.
But what does all this rambling have to do with anything? What does it have to do with being a better mother, father, lover, friend, and person? The answer is… everything.
Ask yourself something… “What if?”
Think of the last thing you did that you felt was wrong or not good enough. Now, let’s pretend that it never happened. When we get to the point in any situation at which we base our goal for tomorrow on the problems of the past, let’s force ourselves to act as if the problems leading up to it never happened. It doesn’t matter if it was five seconds ago or five days ago. We will believe that they are gone. We will believe that they don’t exist.
What if we didn’t botch it as parents today (even though we did), and the only thing that happens is right now we go start a pillow fight with our kids? What if right now, feathers start flying everywhere? What if right now, our kids laugh as they lunge through the air with flailing weapons of fluff?
What if we didn’t let our house get out of control (even though we did), and the only thing that happens is right now we grab a trash sack and go for the new speed record as we pick up some of the garbage in just one room? What if right now, we make that small amount of trash just disappear?
What if we’d never gotten angry (even though we had)? What if we’d never had to worry about our tempers? What if the only thing that happens is right now we say something kind? What if right now we say something beautiful?
What if we’d never felt fat (even though we had)? What if we’d never felt ashamed? What if we’d never overeaten? What if we’d never seen the scale say a number higher than we’d like? What if right now the only thing that happens is, we simply don’t eat another handful junk food? What if right now, we order a salad instead of a cheeseburger?
What if we’d never had an addiction to sex? What if we’d never been addicted to tobacco, drugs, or alcohol? What if food had never enslaved us? What if our so called addictions never existed? What if the only thing that happens is right now, we grab a newspaper instead of a Penthouse? What if right now, we order chocolate milk instead of a Gin and Tonic? What if right now, we turn and walk toward the laundry room instead of the kitchen?
What if we’d never had a lover hurt us (even though they had)? What if we had never been betrayed? What if we’d never felt ugly or worthless to the one we loved the most? What if, right now, the only thing that happens is we look at ourselves in the mirror and declare that we are insanely sexy?
What if we didn’t miss our workout (even though we did)? What if we hadn’t had a lack of motivation? What if we hadn’t botched our routine? What if right now the only thing that happens is, we stand up and do ten jumping jacks just because moving our bodies feels good?
What if we weren’t just laid off at work?
What if we’d never had an eating disorder?
What if we’d never been abused as a child?
What if we’d never stolen, lied, cheated, or threatened others?
What if we’d never had that affair? What if we’d never said those horrible things? What if we’d never ran away, sabotaged ourselves, or wanted to kill ourselves?
How would we act right now, if the past never happened?
For some reason we have a very hard time letting go of our thoughts of the past. We haunt ourselves with a stream of negativity that took place some time before now. I did cheat. I did let the house go to crap. I did ignore the kids today. I did fail at something.
I’m here to tell you an amazing truth. Whatever that something is, it doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, it is something that no longer exists. Literally. Whether it was a millisecond ago or a century ago, the universe has officially left it behind.
And so should you.
Whether or not time actually exists has been debated by the greatest minds of all time. It doesn’t really matter if it does or not, you should choose to believe that it doesn’t. Let me explain why.
Looking at the clock or the calendar on the wall has become the center of our lives. We are in the habit of looking at those digits and shifting our entire thinking around them. We attach a “time” to every past event in our lives in order to make it real.
Well, five minutes ago I did lose control and scream at Johnny. It happened. Five minutes ago! The proof is there, forever attached to a specific time in the past.
I did battle an eating disorder for six years. It happened. From 1999 to 2005. The proof is there, forever attached to specific years in the past.
I did give in to my addiction. This morning at 10:09. It happened. Only hours ago, it happened. The proof is there, forever attached to another specific time in the past.
We also attach a “time” to every future event that we’d like to see happen.
I want to be done with this project by the end of the week. I want to be at this place in my career within two years. Next month I am going to be perfect in my gym attendance.
We attach “time” to everything. Including everything we’ve worked so hard to achieve or overcome.
I have been sober for five years now. I have not cheated on my diet in at least ten days. I have kept up with the laundry for the last six weeks.
We must stop attaching time to everything. As long as we do, we’ll never be who we want to be, we’ll never move past the pain of yesterday, and we’ll never find the thrill of living for ourselves right now.
We can’t get rid of clocks, we can’t get rid of calendars. What we can do, is change that yellow duck to a black one in our minds, even when it goes against something powerful from our past.
Every time we look at the clock, we must learn to feel a sense of urgency. We must learn to realize that “now” is happening and will very soon be gone. We must look at the digits on the display and be overcome with an urge to do something before those digits change. Before “now” slips through our fingers. We must look at the ink on the calendar and see an immediate opportunity to do something wonderful, incredible, or beautiful.
It’s that simple. We need to change our thinking from “when the number changes” to “before the number changes”.
We need to stop looking at those numbers and days in our minds, and attaching our past events to them.
We need to simply be whatever we should be, right now.
If we stop trying to cram “the big picture” into numbers on calendars and digits on clocks, everything that is important will get done. We will be what we want to be. We will have everything we want to have. Why?
Because “now” isn’t very long at all. “Now” doesn’t afford us the “time” it takes to think about “the past”. Now doesn’t afford us much time to do anything except small and significant things. Small and significant things are the only way any great thing is ever accomplished. “Now” is beautiful. “Now” is incredible. I promise you. Believing only in what’s “now” gives you no other option than an astonishing and wonderful future.
You will likely think to yourself, I cannot forget the past. Don’t worry. You don’t need to learn how to do that. You’ll never need to learn how to do that. It will happen naturally. As you learn to look at “time” and see only “now”, the past will disappear completely. Once that past disappears, it can no longer define you. It can no longer keep you from drawing pictures of black ducks, if that’s what you wish to draw.
And once your past no longer has the power to define you, your future is, quite literally, yours for the taking. Every single beautiful thing you could possibly want or imagine will be yours.
Which may cause you to ask yourself, what about the beautiful things of the past? What about the incredible, miraculous, kind, loving, wonderful events that have already happened? Guess what… they don’t exist either. They are also just flashes of electricity happening now. Hold onto them, but learn not to lean on them. Use them as a foundation for what you want “now” to be, and nothing more. Use them as navigational beacons. And, as you learn to live “now”, you’ll find yourself using those beacons less and less. You’ll find yourself constantly lost in the beauty of “now”. You’ll discover that the most fantastic things in life are never in the past, they are always right now. Always.
The past doesn’t exist. Figure that out as quickly as you can, then meet me here tomorrow.
Right now, do me a favor and nibble off a piece of this concept with me. Think of the most discouraging thing that you are currently carrying or the biggest project you can’t seem to tackle. Forget about how it happened, forget about how you got there, just look at the clock, and before that number changes, do one little thing to make it better. After you do, enjoy your moment of victory, and then do it again. In less than the time it takes you to blink, the past will burden you no more.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS, I’m also curious. What are the biggest voices and experiences from your past that have stopped you from doing or thinking amazing things? Please share.
What are you going to do “now”? Me, I’m going to crank up some music and dance. Why? Because dancing is my black duck. I’ll explain that in tomorrow’s post.
fascinating discussion of the obvious. for movie buffs, there is a cool treatment of this idea in "now and later" but be advised it is definitely NC-17 ish.
So many times it happens you trade your passion for glory, don't lose the grip on the dreams of the past you must fight to keep them alive! Survivor sang that song for the Rocky movies and it went on to be a motivating song for many people. I think what you wrote here about the past is gone and the future isn't here and now only exists in the present tense and what I have written is now a part of the past. I feel that you have the eye of the tiger and keeps allof us alive we just forget to remember cause something else caught our attention!!! SQUIRRELL!!!!! Pardon my ADHD or ADD or whatever but you help a lot of people with your blog! Thanks, I have made many blunders and horible choices and have had to pay the piper many times because of them. I have also allowed the past to remain open because of feelings and emotions I cannot control. Yoda said to "do or do not" in the empire strikes back. "for you there is no try" so what if the answer is no, does that mean there is nothing else to take its place??? I tell you the truth and it has set me free, I was just to scared to get up and "get r done! and runnin through hell, if your going through hell just keep on going and get out beffore the devil knows your there. It' okayto run away from bad memories and go towards the beautiful things in your life, THanks again for this uplifting blog of yours KEEP THE FAITH!!! because you already have it! WOOO!!! WOOO!!! WOOO!!!
the only problem is my past is stamped forever in my life! i was a horrid person who did stupid things! and now i have an 8 yr old boy who thinks his mom is the most amazing and beautiful woman on the face of this earth! that is my past in my present! but forget my screw ups and the horrid life i lived! i have an amazing son out of the deal! he saved my life! he made me change! what if he never happened? i don't want to think about that!
The biggest experience from my past that has stopped me from doing or thinking amazing things? Wow. That's a seriously loaded question for me. I spent my childhood thinking nothing I ever did was good enough for my parents. It seemed like no matter what I did, there was something else I could have done to make the task more complete, or something that should have been done differently to make it better. These things were always pointed out to me. I got to the point where I stopped doing things, even when ordered to do them. I felt completely worthless and useless. I'm now 31 years old, and I am completely unable to perform even the most menial task like sweeping the floor, because I have been paralyzed by my feelings of worthlessness. I have no life. I only leave my home to go to the grocery store. I have no friends other than those online. I'm a pathetic miserable wreck, and it's because of my past. I could have been so much. I'm very creative. I have a genius IQ. I'm a great cook. I just can't function like a normal human being.
to some extent I can see it really being applied yet thereare past events , experiences I am truly grateful for that memory one being able to recognize child predators . I honestly do not think I would like to give that sense ofcaution & knowing up. It has helped keep our children & other childrn safe many times .I'd rather have reembered and know the past instaed of not knwoing our child is in danger and just being oblivious to protect them . It something many survivors of abuse have an do compared to he general population who haven' a clue and yes children are abused often out of ignorance . it isn't just being educated now I mean wha if you fogrot all th good stuff you learned before ? I personally do not mind remember the bad with the good. like you said about your move as a child . did it really hurt to have that false memory ? do you wish you never hd it ? forget everything that happened just because it was a wrong choice ? so now do you forget the move your faily had even though you got the date wrong ? Lol wow you made me have so many more questions !
HI - just want to say thats absolutely right. I often think lately what if we just be the absolute best we can be right now regardless of what happened before or after - as i it didnt happen - just right now be your best. Be your best even if you fail, even if something terrible happens, even if something good happens something amazing. Just be your best.
Have you been listening to Jeru Kabbal??? Great stuff! If you haven't been, you sound just like him! :) Thanks for sharing. It seems like we're on the wavelength, because I listened to his talk about the past not existing right about the time you posted this. Wild!
You had me all the way through "we are behind the reins" - then you kept going and I think you over explained and things got a little muddled. I can understand that though. I think sometimes everyone feels the need to be absolutely 100% thorough so no one can misunderstand what they're thinking.
It's still a great post though. :)
I don't think that we need to forget about the past... the past is what saved me and why I have an eternity of heaven that is everyday (heaven on earth, enjoying God NOW instead of waiting for after death).
The sins of my past have been forgiven and therefore no longer need to define me! Praise God! I can no longer be held down by what happened back then but if I forget everything, I will forget the miraculous too - like the time God met me in my room :) Not a person but a voice and a presence :)
As far as the more daily and annoying - thank you for the reminder that it doesn't matter how my house got messy... I just need to work on it now, with the time I have now, as much as I can NOW ... and soon it may be clean! :)
I only just now read this, and have to say thank you. Thank you for saying something I've heard being said a lot more often lately. There is an awakening taking place, and it is people like me and you that are making the changes necessary to make this world a better place. You are an amazing man, Dan, and I wish I knew you in person. We'd have a great time together. Namaste, friend. Keep the words flowing and the message going.
Wholeheartedly agree! I think one of the reasons I'm so laid back is that I live for the moment. I don't let the future daunt me, or the past haunt me, I also don't rhyme on purpose. I agree with some of the comments that say we can learn from the past, but only in passing refeence. I don't let my 7 years of school-era social shutdown run my current life, but it gives me inspiration to NOT be like that anymore. I love myself for overcoming it.
My main problem with the past is retromaniacs. Not people with a love for 80's Fashion, either. These are the people that dwell on my past. They constantly remind me that I failed in some way. I want to start fresh, make amends, do something "amazing", and all they can say is "but don't you remember, you [did something wrong], so how can I expect you to do this?" Or something similar.
It breaks my heart, and sometimes makes me feel "worthless," like in your post on worthless men. However, I've learned to not let these people bog me down. If they want to spend their present dwelling on the past, they can go right ahead. I'll spend my present being happy and productive, making my life and the lives of people around me better and happier. I have nothing but love to give, I refuse to let the past prevent me from doing so.
my husband recently admitted to me he is an alcoholic, had been lying to me our entire relationship, and had been unfaithful more than once. Every time I try to move past this I think of the "past" the things he never did, the promises he broke, the times i cried all night because he had gotten drunk and made me feel worthless. Reading your words in this post has changed my life forever I let that go I let the past go and I have never felt so..... free. I have never felt so empowered since reading this I have reread it a couple times and every time it makes me cry and makes me want to live "now" forever.
Dude, you're channeling FLYlady here, and there's nothing wrong with that. She says it best. "You are not behind, just jump in where you are." This applies to your wider philosophy as stated in this article. I.e. Don't beat yourself up about what you haven't done well or "perfectly" in the past. Instead, start where you are and begin to build better habits. FLYlady is a loving genius. For those of you who don't know her: flylady.net.
Long and well said.
I carry all kinds of things from my past that shape who I am in this very moment. Every bite I eat (or don't eat) has to do with my childhood food experiences... Every word I say (or don't say) is haunted by reminders of those around me BEFORE this moment... Every time I allow the OCD in me to rear its ugly head and stress me out about the mess in the house, I am lost in the past I grew up in.
I'm very aware of these things (as you are) and I believe that being aware of how we allow our past to shape our current is the first mighty leap to putting the past away.
It is done... we can't change it... we can do our best to ensure it doesn't damage our current!
Thank you for your wise words SDL.
Thank-you Dan. Thank-you for your encouraging words. Will try to follow cos I am going through one of my worst time in life. It isn't easy saying that the past does not exist anymore cos sometimes the past surges into the present and that requires us to deal with it. As much as we can say it doesn't exist anymore, sometimes it doesn't. We just have to be brave enough to face it and then work on making it a past that will no more exist. Right? Thank-you.
Thank-you for your thoughts and thank-you for the encouragement. Right now I am going through one of my worst part in life. It is so true that we allow the past to live in the present, allowing it to devour us. But sometimes it is so difficult to not dwell in the past but live for the moment and enjoy it. It gets tougher when the past surges into the present and you have to deal with it, pushing it backwards and letting go. Sometimes, it is not that we do not want to forget the past, (the past does not exist) but the past continues right into the present and we have to deal with it. As much as we want to believe that the past is no more, sometimes it catches on.................. But thank-you so much.
Most people in general "cling" to the past and memories, because (positive or negative) they find comfort wrapping themselves in that proverbial "blanket". I think alot of people will miss the big picture.........some give too much power to those things in the past, which prevent them from living in the present. They will use that past as a crutch, a reason for being and miss the experience of making the existing moment meaningful which in turn will prevent one from moving forward.
I am still learning this concept-some days are better than others, but to let go of the power of those negative experiences in the past, means to get rid of the noose around your neck and allow you to breath.
So yes, Dan you are absolutely right. We place way too many ghosts and hangups on how people hurt us in the past. So as far as my "three legged dog" I can now lay her to rest and be free of her. But I do have to say our memories, and all we hold dear in the past is not something I'm willing to forget. Those memories are the ones that put a smile on my face when I'm feeling low. So if I live to be 90 and can't move very well anymore, I will start to laugh when I remember the time I danced and danced!
"LIVE IN THE NOW" I like it. But easier said than done. I have to admit, I still think about the bitch of a boss I had a couple of years ago. When I'm feeling happy, I don't think about her at all. I am completely in the moment. She was part of my past and it doesn't exist anymore. But every now and then, she does come to mind. The truth is my wicked boss didn't know me well enough to hate me. But she did. I'm not working for her anymore. THANK GOD!....And yes I finally did have the guts to just stop the situation and leave that job. I vented this summer on paper and used my creativity and wrote a poem dedicated to her: "the three legged dog." Still, the irony is I realized she still had a hold on me. I'd given her too much power over me.....DAMN IT!....
Hey hey!! Finally!! The baby sister made an appearance :oP Haha thanks Danno, this concept actually helped me with in a big way with something I've been pretty down about.
I think one of the illusions that we have is that we can fix something we DID. If we can't fix something we DID, then we should DO something good!
Wow. Losing everything ive ever had, i guess. I could make a list, again, but that would waste my time. that was befroe, and that doesnt' exsitst to me anymore. all of those things ive lost. All gone. need to do something now to make my energies healed, i suppose, and i will. :) Thankyou ,SDL. :D
Another wonderful post.
I have been trying, lately, to stop living in my past and to enjoy the now.
It is, however, very difficult when the voices of my father and those bullying girls from school creep back into my mind.
To quote one of my favorite books... " Life is. We are. So be. " ("Druids", by Morgan Llewellyn)
I'm still learning and still trying. I think the word 'scarey-velous' sums it up for me. Letting it all go can be scarey and marvelous all at once.
I agree with the concept of "live for today" and "be where your hands are" but I also believe the past has a purpose. I agree that I need to let go of things people have said and done that have been hurtful and not let it continue to control me but I do want to use those memories so I don't want to do or say something the same to hurt others.
It's a great concept, but it is a two sided blade. For every person that desires to be or do good for others, is the person that will use it to justify hurting others and unfortunetly there are too many people that seem to have no conscience or little regard for the well being of others. So it's a fine line to walk, using the past as a conscience to remember important defining situations, which is a good thing for the person who makes it their life purpose to feed the hungry because they they were hungry, but not using the past to define untrue beliefs. For each person that will be different, but the same to some degree. Don't most people struggle with some sort of low esteem or fear, those would be past, untrue beliefs, but why a person struggles with worth will be different. For Dan, someone critized his dancing, for me, my mom told me I wasn't pretty. It doesn't matter what others think, what matters is what I believe and if I know the truth about what makes me pretty. It isn't my physical apperance that makes me beautiful, it's my joy and love for others, my heart that makes my beautiful. but I wouldn't have learned that if I had forgotten what my mom said.
Now I look at others (and myself) and say... What kind of person is this? Are they self centred, self serving, do whatever they have to just to get whatever they want...sometimes even hurt others on purpose to get it? Do they boast or gloat? Do they give without regard for reward? Do they share in a person's joy, and sorrow? It's all so important.
So the past has a purpose, it is important to use, like a tool. But I do agree that the past has WAY to much control over our present. It is far to often used as a control devise, used to create guilt and fear so that we don't reach our potencial. So every thing I've experienced is important, and even though there is a lot of things I wish I could forget or wish didn't happen or would just go away, I wouldn't be the person I am today with out each experience - good, bad or indifferent - and I like who I am today. Some days I like me more than other days, but from this too I'll learn.
GREAT post Dan!! May I share a blog post I wrote about this subject a few years ago? I hope you find it as stimulating as your post was to me!
"I have been recently studying the book "What the Bleep Do We Know" and tonight watched the DVD, and I came away with a pretty big "a-ha". This insight I got I definitely understood before, but I seemed to "get it" on a level much higher than before.
As I watched, the theory started to concrete inside my mind about how our perception creates our reality. Then I started to zoom outwards from that point of view and it took my breath away.
If every one of us as human beings are using our perceptions to create our realities, does anyone actually have the exact same perception?? The answer was a resounding "NO." No one has the exact same perception on life. Which means that quite literally, we are living amongst billions of different realities!!
You could even say that each human mind has it's own set of rules, it's own view on what it thinks reality is, and when that view and those rules come together...presto...a universe.
This started making so much sense to me on everyday levels. We are all cruising around in our own realities, made up by rules from our own perceptions. Now for the most part, these perceptions are similar. But sometimes those realities collide.
Everytime we get in an argument, have a fight, don't see things from the other's point of view, have a misunderstanding...your universe has just collided with theirs. The aftermath can sometimes be devastating as we both spin out of control and end up in chaos and disarray...other times the collateral damage is kept to a minimum as we control the crash and try to be as graceful as possible with the way two realities collide.
Have you ever been in a position where you feel you don't exist in someone's eyes? Just like the old cliche, "He/She doesn't even know I exist!" ... well that's because quite literally, you don't! Not in their world. You're nowhere to be seen, and until you collide your reality with theirs, you never will. We call this "inter-action".
How else can there be so many political and religious views? With each one thinking they are the only right one? Because in their world...they are!
So if we are all our own universes out there spinning around, creating and recreating from our own set of rules, how will we ever truly be on the same page? My thoughts are that as we learn how to use this power more and more, we begin to master the trajectory of our creations and we learn how to more lovingly inter-act with our fellow universes. We are quite like toddlers, learning how to walk, we are clumsy and wobbly, and fall over a LOT. But as we grow into this, it gets smoother and easier.
And most importantly as we become conscious of our self we begin to understand it more and more. I think that the more understanding we gain about the way we create, the more we can have understanding of how everyone else creates.
And then...we will have truly coexisting worlds, a dance of energies, a symphony of creations, that; in all their uniqueness', do not disturb each other in a negative sense. Your reality will be peaceful as I begin to find peace in my reality, and vice-versa.
So going down the rabbit hole even deeper...if what you do in your reality affects what I do in mine, how different are we really?"
Great post today as always.
Someone once told me when I can't get to "NOW" to stop and ask myself, "I wonder what my next thought will be?" Wait for it...there you are in the NOW! Sometimes that little question is all I need to refocus my energy to the gift that is the present.
My black duck is my horrible self esteem; being overweight, anxiety/shyness, hurtful things by husband (but to give him credit-more of them in the past), feeling like I can't do it all-house, cooking, food shopping, errands, ballance budget, the list actually doesn't stop at all... feeling like in your past post, like a failure. My best friend lately keeps telling me how much I have inspired her to do this and that. It isn't sinking in how she could possibly feel that way. She must just be saying that to be nice.
My black duck is all of those things you posted before that you have heard women say.
Thanks for the encouragement as usual Dan!
The book titled Who Switched Off My Brain controlling toxic thoughts and emotions, by dr..caroline leaf handles some of the same topics but from a nuerological point of view. Its a good read. Nice Black Duck :)
wow very Philip K Dick of you Dan way to go!!! I LOVE this concept and how reality is only real for the person that is in it. My black duck is my ex husband saying that he would be interested in me if I lost 10 lbs. I an 5'8" and was a size 10 at the time. I let that memory distroy all self esteem and after I finallyleft him I realized that size had nothing to do with it. I am still working on making that thought go away but it hurts when it comes across my mind. After I left him I went to the gym every night to get rid of negative energy and the "extra 10 lbs" melted away. My thing I am doing right now to keep that memory away is that I am married to a wonderful man who loves me completly size has nothing to do with the feelings he has for me.
When my girlfriend sent me this link to read about it...a few paragraphs in, I asked if this guy was a physicist or philosopher. I did make a comment about this blog which I think is extremely insightful. If you want to know even more about what he's talking about watch the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know?" It's all about quantum physics. It's half documentary, half movie and extremely helpful about learning how our brains get hard wired into thinking in negative thought patterns, why we have the addictions we have to whatever they may be. My addiction is to negative, angry thinking. You may have to watch the movie a few times to wrap your head around it because it's can be quite complex but it's a great movie if you want to learn more about how much our thoughts carry weight and how we are all energy.
Regarding your comments about the past and future: if you haven't looked into Eckhart Tolle's teachings/books, you may want to. Sounds like you would jive with what he has to say :)
As for the biggest voices that have affected me? My own voice was the loudest, and i've come to realize that thoughts and actions that helped me survive in the past may be outdated modes of survival. To cast away the learned behaviors of the past, to let go of worries that are all future based (that haven't happened and therefore are not real) and to live in the present moment is to thrive, not just survive.
I, too, agree and disagree. There's a reason recovery programs instruct you to take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one moment at a time. There's also a reason recovery programs instruct you to celebrate every small victory. There's a reason to remember your testimony - not only did you learn and recover from your mess ups, but you can help others who have messed up or who are about to mess up in the same way.
On the other hand, I have spent far too much time trapped in the past. I have refused to let people love me because my past told me I was unlovable. I have refused to open up to people because my past told me they would just hurt me anyway. I have to remind myself that the past isn't now. This is not something I'm good at, but it is something that I continuously work at.
I also assumed too often there would be a tomorrow, or even a later today. I lost so much time I could have had with my cousin before he died not even two months ago. It haunts me, in the good way - I will never, ever, forget that lesson. Ever. I will never, ever, let slip an opportunity to be involved in someone's life any longer. But only because I choose to remember and hold on to that lesson, or else, as you said, it's gone.
It's a balancing act of remembering just enough of yesterday, thinking just enough about the what if's of tomorrow. Too much or too little, and you'll skin your knee, or worse, in the present. We just have to keep pursuing that balance.
To deny the past is impossible for every muscle in your body and thought in your head has been shaped by past happenings; just remember that you can not change a single one of those happenings. The past is a measuring stick that can bring happiness for a moment but is never a place for worship or dwelling on mistakes. Also remember that the only way you can change tomorrow is by thought and action right now. God doesn't promise tomorrow; Just this moment and eternity.
Great ideas! I feel the same, we create our own realities by our interpretations of what we "know" to be true....what if the sky were really green instead of blue...what if we really only exist in a "ant farm" on the desk of God? We only know what we are told and if we ever found out that what we have been told was just a big fat lie, then how stable would we feel in our own lives? Very scary indeed...Some people have lived this night mare, children kidnapped at infancy and being raised as "little Johnny" of some farm out in nebraska when in reality his name was Sabastian, and he was the only heir of a wealthy legacy with long family lines out of England...how would you feel if you found that out when you now are running the "family farm" and have family of your own in your 40's? Scary huh? I think its very interesting theory though...Thank you for the mental cookie...I like discusions like these...it makes you think ;)
I think it's very important to never demean your children because at 42, I find my biggest struggle to still be against the voice from my childhood resounding inside my head; "you're worthless, you're lazy, you're stupid as a box of rocks... I wish you'd never been born."
I try to resist it for days, but then one morning I wake up and again think; "why bother?" ... and I lose hope again.
Definitely agree we need to live in the present and be more mindful of the here and now. So many of us live in rewind or fast forward, but we really just need to play (literally & figuratively). But I don't think we should attempt to erase the past because it has value or neglect the future because planning gets us to who and where we want to be.
What I am finally learning is that I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday, and the person I will be in the next moment and the next, all has to do with choices I am making now.
Always living in the "now". People ask why I don't have a 5 yr plan...my past has taught me that tomorrow isn't promised to anyone...live in the present moment. "I can't control the winds, I can only adjust the sails". No matter what life throws your way, and I mean ANYTHING...there is always someone, somewhere going through just as much if not more. Make the best of life by living it now!
Yesterday was my 32nd birthday. Being that it was Halloween, we (my husband, kids and I) celebrated it by trick or treating on Saturday ( and yes we ALL dressed up). My 2 oldest sons (age 14 & 12) paused for a moment to snap a family picture then they were off to enjoy the splendors of Halloween with their friends. As my husband and I and our 2 youngest kids ( son age 10 and daughter age 7) made our trick or treating rounds I realized, wow my kids aren't little any more. I thought, wow where has time gone. I worried, will Halloween lose its magic when I no longer have cute little kiddies to pack around trick or treating? I then began to feel regret for not taking more time to savor those special moments while I still had them. I felt OLD. I didnt want to be 32. I wanted instead to be 18 again taking my oldest son trick or treating for the first time. When the night came to a close and everyone was asleep but me I clicked on the facebook icon on my phone and found a link to one of your blog posts, "worthless women and the men who make them" ( of which I am so greatful to my sweet friend, Ashley, who posted it. It was as if the world instantly became brighter. I was hooked. I couldn't help but read more. I cried a lot. I learned a lot. Suddenly I started feeling better. I began taking a different perspective on life. I realized I could not continue on feeling regrets about yesterday because it was making me sad today. No one should feel sad on their birthday. Suddenly I realized, that today, this very day was the beginning of something beautiful. I had the realization of exactly what you wrote about today. I only have "now" because that is the only thing that is real. I would not be able to enjoy now if I continued to hold onto regrets ( and believe me I have tons... ) of yesterday. Suddenly, I had the best birthday ever! I had been blessed with a gift to see all the incredible beauty in my life that has been here the whole time. I am a professional at beating myself up for not being the best mom, not having the cleanest, nicest house, not spending enough time with my kids, not being pretty or skinny enough for people to "really" like me (this is a horrible disease) not being the best friend, not doing enough kind things, not being smart enough, not, not, not.... Not being perfect. Suddenly I saw ( & am continuing to see) that none of those things matter. I can no longer beat myself up or beat up the opportunities I have to experience life with family & friends because of things that have happened in the past. I can no longer blame others for things only I can change. I can only be me, right here, right now and live life most beautifully. I have "now" for this moment and am truly blessed to have more "nows" I was overwhelmed by how much i truly have been blessed with, that I really am special and that people really love me. Suddenly I saw my husband for the wonderful man that he is and be able to feel his love for me. It is so much better to see all the beauty there is in life. For this, I am truly greatful. I blessed to have wonderful friends who are inspired to share wonderful things. I am blessed by YOUR life experiences that have brought you here and given you the ability to put to words the things you have shared. So here's to 32 years and more of beautiful. Thank you for the difference you are making in millions of lives, because, yes I believe that when you use your heart in all that you do you can't help but pass a little of it along to others.
your posts always make me think, even i don't necessarily always agree...i think the message you're trying to get across here is a good one....don't let the past dictate your life...yet i don't think believing the past doesn't exist, or the future doesn't exist, is the right way to look at things. it all exists. the past happened. it formed its impressions in our mind, good or bad, and it exists. life itself is nothing but a series of thoughts about whatever is happening or did happen...if we lived each day without memories of anything that came before, or any hope for the future, that would be no existence at all.
that doesn't mean i believe that the past should color everything of the now, yet sometimes it should color things. we need to learn from our mistakes. and if we do something wrong, maybe we want to forget it happened, but what about the people who it affected? they don't forget. and we shouldn't be allowed to forget just because it makes us feel bad to remember....we have to learn from the past! we can't forget it. that doesn't mean i think every bad thing we've experienced or done should make us endlessly hate ourselves...just that i believe there is value in remembering....
and i most definitely believe there is value in believing in 'someday things will be okay' cause honestly? not all of us have a 'beautiful now' to be relishing in. sometimes the 'now' sucks donkey balls. and if i didn't have the hope that the future would be different and better, then i'd have nothing at all...
i don't know...this was an interesting post with a really good underlying message, yet the delivery to me was a little extreme and off base... i think we need to hope of the future and remember the past, and then try our hardest to make our present as good as we can... but life is the sum total of events that happen to us...life is not just this very second of time...its everything. and we just need to learn healthy ways to put it all together and find peace with ourselves and our pasts..while always hoping for the future....
we need to realize that, in regards to our past, we have a choice. Our
difficulties can make us bitter or better. They can
become a stumbling block or a stepping stone. They can
make us resentful or we can see in them an opportunity
to be creative. The choice, however, is ours.
And who hasn't been encouraged by someone saying, "Hey, it's okay. I've been living free from this addiction for 6 years, and I still have the urge to give in sometimes. It gets easier, but it's hard."