On History and Possibility

They say that history tends to repeat itself. Until recently, I thought that was a sort of universal law, like a law of physics or something.

As a society, we do seem to continue to do the same things, albeit in different iterations. The patterns keep repeating, like grooves in a record. We fight the same wars, make the same mistakes and solve the same problems, over and over again.

Until recently, I never thought about how history might repeat itself on a smaller, more personal scale. Then I noticed that, low and behold, my own personal history has also been set on repeat. This has been a rather surprising and eye-opening discovery.

Sure, things have changed. I have grown and learned and evolved, and in some ways I am a totally different person than I was 10, 20, or 30 years ago.

The other side of that coin, however, is that I’m not. I’m still creating the same situations, struggling with the same issues and dancing with the same demons that I was 10, 20 or even 30 years ago.

These familiar demons are not the obvious ones, though. They are not the ones that scream in my face to be exorcised. They are subtle, sneaky and lurking in the background (which makes them much more insidious and much more powerful than the more obvious ones, by the way).

When I was a child I felt like shit a lot of the time. (I don’t think it’s necessary to go into why; I just had a hard childhood, like so many of us.) I didn’t know I felt like shit, because I was a kid, and hey, I was just living my life. To me, it was normal to feel the way that I felt; I didn’t know anything different.

Fast forward to adult life, where I became free of many of the forces that made me feel so badly. The only problem was, I had been feeling like shit for 18 years, so I didn’t really understand that there were any other possibilities out there.

So. Maybe you can guess what happened: as an adult, I made choices that made me feel like shit.

I’m being really general here. “Feeling like shit” is certainly a very broad (and vulgar) stroke to be painting this picture with, but sometimes I feel like being very general (and vulgar) can make these kind of complicated concepts much, much more accessible. Instead of “feeling like shit” you could insert any one of your own personal neurosis and see if it fits, like “feeling like I’m not good enough” or something.

Anyway. As adults, we all make choices about how to live that support whatever seems normal to us. Since feeling like shit was normal to me, it’s probably not a surprise to you that many of the choices that I made as an adult also made me feel like shit. I didn’t really even notice.

Living from this place, I was unknowingly projecting my past onto my future. History was repeating itself.

Obviously, this was all subconscious. Consciously, I wanted to feel good. I wanted to put the past behind me. However, the little girl in me didn’t know anything else; to her feeling shitty was normal.

This pattern of recreating the past made it really, really hard for certain things to come into my life. Namely, things that don’t make me feel like shit.

Now, this is not to say that there wasn’t or isn’t anything good in my life. Quite the contrary! I have so many wonderful blessings in my life (too numerous to count, really). It’s more that I while I was stuck living from this place I couldn’t actually believe that I could have have anything good in my life, so when good stuff came in I didn’t notice it, or I made it into a problem or otherwise prevented myself from having the goodness that the good stuff was offering me.

Many of us are walking around doing this to ourselves, I think. We are letting a little (inner) child who doesn’t see any other possibilities or potential re-create our past for us, again and again.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be like this. There is another way (which is great news if you’re used to feeling like shit all of the time).

When I give clients psychic readings, one thing that I make very clear is that I can’t see the future. I would assert that any psychic or other energy-reader person who claims they can tell you you’re future is someone you walk, or perhaps run, away from as fast as you can.

Why? Because the future doesn’t exist. It is empty. It is nothing. Within that nothingness, everything is contained. The future is nothing but infinite potential.

The future is constantly being created based on the choices that we make in the present. All of Nature is working together to create our collective future, one choice at a time. On a smaller scale, you are creating your own future as you navigate your path, respond to your environment and choose your life.

Choose your life. Those are powerful words.

There is a yoga sutra about this idea of choice that I just love. It basically says (I’m paraphrasing here); if your thoughts are making you unhappy, choose different thoughts.

I think this sutra is kind of hilarious because it’s just way too simple, but it’s also hilarious to me because it’s totally true. Easier said than done sometimes, I know, but it really is the ticket to freedom. It’s not just our thoughts, either. We can choose different actions, different ways of relating and perceiving, different habits, different feelings, different responses, etc.

When we connect with our ability to chose, we are connecting with our intrinsic power. When we feel that we cannot choose, we don’t have a choice and we are screwed, so to speak, we are somehow out of touch with our power. This is an understandable way to feel.

As children, we did not have a choice. In our innocence, we did not know that there were other possibilities. We just tried to survive whatever was handed to us.

As adults, we still get things handed to us that perhaps we didn’t bargain for, but we are no longer innocent; we have the capacity for self-awareness, and if we use that capacity we begin to see that we have agency.

For example, I can choose to let all of the good things in my life be present in my life as good things, and to allow them to make me feel good. I can choose to notice when I am thinking, feeling, perceiving and relating from the old paradigm that tells me that I am supposed to feel like shit. When I notice this I can consciously move away from it and then toward the possibility that I don’t have to feel that way anymore. I can let the infinite potential of the future run through me, and as it does the past is released back to where it belongs; in the past.

To truly heal from the past we have to stop recreating it. This means all of us, personally and collectively. As we walk forward today, into the rest of our lives, let us remember that there is nothing in front of us; only empty space, and infinite potential.

We are not what happens to us, we are who we choose to become.

                                                                                               – Carl Jung