Who are you? What defines you? You tell yourself your own history as a way of having it guide your future. Like a set of cattle gates, you set up your past anew every day and you run your patterns based on it. It’s like your past experiences dug post-holes and you rebuild your fences each day in exactly the same way. And over and over it guides you to the same sorts of outcomes. What a surprise.
If you got hurt by a man, then you watch men for their mistakes. If you got betrayed by a woman, then you watch them for dishonesty. If you saw a child get hurt when you were young, then you’ve often worried about children getting hurt. In short, you’re like a computer who got some viruses in with its programming. These ideas aren’t you, but because you don’t realize that, you continue to let them guide your future.
You think you’re someone who got hurt by this or that event, when in fact you’re someone who’s thinking about a person in the past who was hurt by this or that event. But that person and you have far less to do with each other than your imagination allows you to see. Because you believe in the idea of identity, you 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 you wake up and you have a choice. You can choose to live the same life you always have, using the same ideas, and thinking the same limiting thoughts, or you can free yourself and imagine a future rather than remember a past.
Create the life you want by making the decisions that a life like that requires. Because if you just look upon that life and tell yourself stories about how that person isn’t you, then that is who you will be: you 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 those thoughts.
Can you 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 you are whoever you think you are, and you will do whatever you believe is appropriate for that person. So if you wake up every day and tell yourself you’re not good at something, then you will never be good at it. But if you wake up and tell yourself to simply do it, over time you’ll get better through experience.
Every day you have a chance to give birth to yourself. Don’t limit yourself with historical thinking. Don’t talk to yourself about who you’ve been and what you’ve been through. Tell us who you’re going to be and then act out that person’s life instead of the person you previously believed you were. Because that is the only real difference between who you are and who you want to be: you make one of them a verb and you leave the other as a fantasy. You act one out, and leave the other unperformed.
Be who you want to be. Nothing’s stopping you but the story of who you thought you were. Because you can’t be amazing if you’re busy being miserable. So use each moment wisely. Like an Olympian, turn your dreams for your future into your reality. It really is that easy.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.