|Will the real me step forward?|
I have been looking back at some Facebook postings that someone puts on my timeline of products from the 1980s that you may have used and some of them have been toys that my kids certainly had. It's quite nostalgic. In general, I love nostalgia, looking back at pleasant events, things, some places and people for example. Memories are by the most part okay but there are some things I'd rather not remember - often because they are embarrassing, or not too pleasant or not very positive as a whole.
One of my mantras is that you can't look back to the past with regrets because you can't change anything that happened back then. You can manipulate memories if you can get away with it, but the past is a series of electrical impulses in your mind recorded for posterity or placed there for, as we sometimes think, the sole purpose of making you shiver and cringe. You can't change it and it forms the basis of who you are today. The collective experiences, physical, mental and spiritual is you. Your attitude today is coloured by it, your actions now are often determined by it and that may be good in a protectionist sort of way if you want to avoid falling into the same trap as an unpleasant past event. By the same token, you may have already learned from the lesson and you use the past to move you forward at a pace.
I fully accept that experiences from the past can be debilitating in many, many ways.
But you can't change the past. You can do something about not letting the past hurt you, affect you or colour your future. I admire, applaud and support those that want to understand the past, understand why it is hurting them or affecting them now in a negative way and give themselves tools for making the future whole and more comfortable personally. Good on you - go for it.
Have I looked to my past and tried to understand how it makes me the person I am today? Certainly because I wanted to understand why I am like I am and this helps to change things about who I am today and hopefully in the future. I also accept I could do more in this area of my life.
I have written on here in the past about the fact that we have supposedly free will and I think that is largely true within the constraints of the law of the land and it's also governed by your physical and mental abilities and your conscience. There is tonnes of philosophical writing on free will, lots of theories, scientific and personal and what it's based on, some of it I don't understand.
What I do understand is that you have the free will to change a lot of things - personal issues particularly but looking to the future, what changes can you make and agree in your own mind that it is okay to change? Looking after the 'me' factor is neither selfish nor is it unacceptable in the priorities of life. Do your children and family come first? Do you risk your life to save a drowning man despite your responsibilities? We would all like to say 'yes' to the first and the second question comes with qualifications for some of us - can you swim; is it highly dangerous; is there back up available to help you if you get into trouble; are you fit enough; do I care? I guess some people don't think twice about a rescue, their nature is one of love for a fellow suffering man - 'others come first'; others would consider their options first - they are not selfish, they are simply logical, pragmatic and realist. Neither option or attitude is right or wrong by the way, only you can judge when you are placed in that situation. It's too easy to judge others.
But you have the choice. The free will to decide and mainly at your own pace too.
So what is it you want to change? I want to change a whole host of things - some are conditioned things, some are cultural things, some are beliefs, both personal and professional, some physical, some emotional.
I have decided to change something that doesn't exist: the future expected path of my life, which is determined by a whole host of things: traditional family expectations for older life, again - culture, probable physical health, financial circumstances, mental health, happiness, destiny and the list goes on.
Why would I want to change what might be? That's a matter for me to know right now, it will become clear in time, but my past will not affect the future if I can help it. Why, just because certain things have happened in the past will it affect my future? I have likened this change to my expected path to having a clean piece of paper before me.
The question I have only recently asked myself (recent = past two or three years) is, do I want to be a different 'me' in the future from the 'me' of the past?
I am fed up with having my present and probably my future coloured and adjusted by my past. My plans for the future are fairly clear in my head for some parts of it and less clear for others. Do I use my experience of the past to make judgements? 'Yes' but only because my past is who I am today, but I don't normally go back if I can help it to the past to justify it using specific examples of why I will or I won't do this or that.
Is change easy? No, it is one of the most unsettling thing for a human being, to be drawn outside of a comfort zone. In other words, the unknown, which is what the future is. There is absolutely no certainty in the future and as the old saying goes (attr. to Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke the elder): 'the plan of action never survives first contact with the enemy.' So, this indicates that nothing ever goes smoothly, even though you can put down the best of plans - expect the unexpected. The other certainties about the future are the tax man and death, a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin. I'm not sure about those either to be honest (but that's a different debate).
I think we should all use our free will to change what we don't like about ourselves and other things around us if that's possible, to protect as best we can our uncertain future. Don't sit back and accept what isn't acceptable any more. Small steps perhaps, an objective a day or a week.
I feel less inclined to be one of the flock of society's sheep any more. I want to be a different 'me'. When the time comes to make a decision or decisions, I will be a different person, already changed by my evolving thought patterns and attitudes, ready to be who I really am.
Do what I've done - get a friend (in my case), or friends who you can trust to help you in your quest for change and self understanding and perhaps most important of all - self belief.
These are just personal thoughts, nothing academic and I guess that they can be easily criticised, but it's a point of view. What's yours?