Who are we? What defines us? We tell ourselves our own history as a way of having it guide our future. Like a set of fences, we set up our past anew every day and we run our patterns based on it.
It’s like our past experiences dug post-holes and we rebuild your fences each day in exactly the same way. And over and over it guides us to the same sorts of outcomes. What a surprise.
If we got hurt due to a man’s carelessness, then we watch men for their mistakes. If we were lied to by a woman, then we watch them for dishonesty. If we saw a child get hurt when we were young, then we’ve often worried about children getting hurt.
In short, we’re like a computer who got some viruses in with our programming. These ideas aren’t us but, because we don’t realize that, we continue to let them guide our future.
We think we’re someone who got hurt by this or that event, when in fact we’re someone who’s thinking about a person we were in the past who was hurt by this or that event. But that person and us have far less to do with each other than our imagination allows us to see.
Because we believe in the idea of identity, we think what happened before has something to do with what happens now, but as Alan Watt’s liked to say, that’s like assuming a ship is pushed by its wake. Where it was yesterday isn’t really relevant to the steering decisions a conscious captain makes today.
Every day we wake up and we have a choice. We can choose to live the same life we always have, using the same ideas, and thinking the same limiting thoughts, or we can free ourselves and imagine a future rather than follow the fence posts of a remembered past.
To create the life we want, we need to make the decisions that a life like that requires. Because if we just look upon that life and tell ourselves stories about how that person isn’t us, then that is who we will be: we will literally be someone who does nothing because they are too busy discussing their self-imposed limitations, or talking to themselves about how they can’t act out their stronger thoughts.
Can we see? Some people talk about having a better life. Some people start acting on those thoughts. The only real success in life is realizing that we are whoever you think you are, and we will do whatever we believe is appropriate for that person.
If we wake up every day and tell ourselves that we’re not good at something, then we will never be good at it. But if we wake up and tell ourselves to simply do it, over time we will get better through experience.
Every day we have a chance to give birth to ourselves. We should not limit ourselves with historical thinking. We are often better to ignore self-talk about ourselves and who we’ve been and what we’ve been through.
We are better to tell ourselves who we’re going to be and then act out that person’s life instead of the person we previously believed we were. Because that is the only real difference between who we are and who we want to be: we make one of them a verb and we leave the other as a thought. We act one out, and leave the other unperformed.
We are free to be who we want to be. Nothing’s stopping us but the story of who we think we are. We can’t be amazing if we’re too busy being miserable. So we are best to use each moment wisely. Like an Olympian might, we are best to turn our dreams for your future and realizing the enormous potential within in.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.