You are not your Past

I heard this yesterday on Tony Robbins’ TED talk.

And it got me thinking.

How much of it do we truly believe on a day to day basis?

When I thought of it for myself – while I do think about the possibilities in the future, I find myself often wondering about my past and looking at the future based on that past.

It’s immensely empowering to think that we can script a future that takes a very different trajectory from our past. But, it can only be empowering if we truly believe.

And I ask myself, do I?

It’s so easy to be caught up in the past, wondering about things that could have been done differently. This often results in a whole bunch of negative of emotions – most typically jealousy and envy. Because I find that I look at my past primarily when I fall into the zone of comparing myself with people I know who I perceive to have done some things better than I did. And these are typically accompanied by a whole host of negative emotions as they never work their effect on us in isolation. And then they tend to heighten/amplify our existing insecurities.

Anger, fear, pain and suffering – the dark side, they are
(for the Yoda lovers :))

I remember having this discussion on insecurities with a wiser friend. We all have insecurities, he said. We have all been made to feel inadequate in some sphere or the other. And that naturally leads to these insecurities. Then, of course, as we grow up, this is a function of environments we are in. We noted that some of the most prestigious, high performing environments are actually places where these insecurities thrive, and are heightened.. leading to the common term ‘insecure overachievers.’ 
These insecurities lead us to constantly need to prove ourselves in word. (We always have to do so in action.. but that’s more for ourselves, I find. Excellence is a habit..) And we find ourselves craving acceptance. And when we don’t find acceptance, we start comparisons again. And the vicious cycle takes over.

I realize this can also flip itself around i.e. instead of focusing on past failures, we can also find ourselves stuck in past glories and find ourselves repeating the same stories over and over again. ‘Stuck’ is probably the common factor here.

I’ve felt these emotions many a time – very often at some stages. It’s been a while since I’ve felt myself caught in a negative cycle and this blog has played a significant role in ensuring that. I don’t think they are every productive or happy. We all have pasts. And they are not always pretty. We all have screwed up. It’s just that when we think of these pasts, we often remember these screw ups and then try and pretend they never existed. But, hey, who are we kidding? We all have elephantine memories when it comes to our own failings.
I am reminded of a scene in ‘A Beautiful Mind’ when John Nash asks Martin Hansen to consider him for a teaching post at Princeton. Hansen responds with concern about Nash’s hallucinations. 
To which Nash says “They are my past. Everyone is haunted by their past.”

Hansen then wonders if he still sees them (the imaginary people in his hallucinations). And Nash acknowledges they are still there and says

“I’ve gotten used to ignoring them and I think, as a result, they’ve kind of given up on me. I think that’s what it’s like with all our dreams and our nightmares, Martin, we’ve got to keep feeding them for them to stay alive.”

I look at our past and future’s similarly. Looking at the negative seems to be hard wired into us. And it’s also the easy thing to do as it comes more naturally. Looking at our dreams, however, means looking at the future, at possibilities. It means shoving all these insecurities aside habitually.

We’ve got to keep feeding them for them to stay alive. 

Incredible deep, that is.

Because possess us, our past or our future will.
Define us, one of them will.
Decide which one to feed, we must.

Choice, we always will have.
Our pasts, we are not.

Our future, we can be.
Remind ourselves that, we must.

Part with you for now, on that note I will
Signing off now, I am.
Roda, the name is. :)