Your Illusionary Past – Garret Kramer

This article is incredible. Taken from: http://garretkramer.com

Can your behavior become habitual? Yes. Can a habitual behavior originate from your past? Definitely. If you are struggling now, should you look to your past as the reason why you feel the way you feel, and for the cure? In my opinion, not for a second.

Indeed, the self-help world strongly disagrees. Virtually all therapists, life coaches, and counselors believe, and have been trained to believe, that conquering former traumas is the key to overcoming current difficulties. One famous self-help professional recently insisted, “The key to finding the truth is to go back to the past, to those haunting times, and resolving former traumas.” Oh boy, where do I begin?

Let’s try simplicity. If people delve into their past in order to explain or fix their current troubles, then they seek answers in the same misinformation that created the troubles in the first place. Or as Sydney Banks once said, “Going back to a troubled past is like putting your hand in a burning fire, pulling it out because it hurt, and then saying, ‘I think I’ll put my hand back in again’.”

The past no longer exists. Why do so many of us look to the past to explain our present troubles?

In short, the past is merely a memory carried through time, a thought. And like all thoughts, the past is not real. So if you attempt to solve your problems in this illusion, you’ll pretty much spin your wheels. As a personal example, for years I couldn’t figure out why at times I lamented my childhood, poor me; yet at other times, I relished it, lucky me. Same childhood, so why did I look at it in such dissimilar ways?

Then, one day I realized that my perception of my past was solely the result of the quality of my thinking and state of mind—which are always changing. Thus, it made no sense to look to my childhood as a concrete circumstance that had the ability to bring me down.

In other words, if I thought about my past one day and it made me miserable, and I thought about my past another day and it made me smile, it had to be something inside of me (my thinking) that was causing my despair or happiness. The past had nothing to do with it.

Your perception of your past is always changing. When you feel down, your past is problematic. When you feel up, your past makes sense.

Now, to be fair, I’m not saying that there are never times when a therapist takes a client back to a former ordeal and the client then finds clarity and feels more at ease. What I’m saying is that when this happens, going back to the past is not the reason. If the client’s thought system and level of consciousness are on the upswing at that moment, he or she will find tranquility no matter what the therapist suggests.

Here’s the bottom line about the past: If it had the ability to lead people to despair, then different individuals who experienced the same traumas would all be suffering now. Plus, your past misfortunes would affect you in the same way at all times. Of course, neither is the case.

To me, the self-help world needs to consider the negative impact of taking a person back to former low states of mind. It energizes and perpetuates suffering. Instead, let’s teach people that they perceive the past from the inside out; that the quality of their thinking and state of mind in the moment create all of their perceptions, including their perceptions of the past. Remember, challenging thoughts about your own life history will occur, but you don’t have to do anything about them—they are illusions—left alone they’ll wither away in no time.

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7 thoughts on “Your Illusionary Past – Garret Kramer

  1. Love this! And it resonates strongly with my own story… I think that it’s also hard to move forward with empowerment when somehow one has been lead to believe (or decided to believe) that one is “broken”. Like you said, I think that perception is huge. Instead of believing that our earlier interpretations were ‘FACT”, I wish that we could proceed through Life believing that we will gain new insights as we grow older. Instead of a “Life Sucks and we’ll show you 100 reasons why” attitude, if we could soften up a bit and view it like the ultimate scavenger hunt, the “bad things” could more easily evolve into major catalysts to new successes. To borrow from Abraham-Hicks, I don’t think that you can drive a car forward by looking in the rear view mirror. For me, by gently working to be “here now”, that has allowed me to see the “tough” moments for the gifts that they have become or for the gifts that are yet to be…..

    Thanks for the post!

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  2. I agree with you that selp help world needs to realize that not everyone should be taken back to past. Although people with sever mental traumas (soldiers for example) and diagnosed depression i am not sure of. But basics for all people is ofcourse to accept the present moment, which is now. But i agree that people with “just” heavy past do not need to go back to deal with issues. I think psychologists have become a quick fix places for many…..they go to doctor’s office so somebody (other than themselves) can fix them. Just something i have observed! 😀
    Great post!

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  3. Life is so unstable as it ebbs and flows drastically.

    if we get angry at others how will we ever heal.

    few, take time in our life and care and exert effort to help is, we should value those items more in hindsight maybe.

    As Lawrence of Arabia said it is not written till I say it is.

    There is never a sharp ending just further learning and growth

    Takes courage to do many things in life

    Few people really try to help

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  4. I don’t agree with this entirely. Our pasts have shaped who we are today. Some of us have pasts that are rife with abuse, and our abusers made us believe things about ourselves that simply were not true, but maybe we haven’t realized or accepted that yet. I think it is important to reflect on some of those traumatic memories to figure out how they have shaped our current behaviors. Yes, it’s going to be painful. But, for me anyway, well worth figuring out why it is I respond to stress in particular ways (for example). I agree completely with the idea that our past is an illusion in that the stories that other people have told about us are not true. Realizing this helps us to notice our reactions to certain situations, understand why we are reacting that way, and actively work to defuse from those thoughts.

    I had a very unhappy childhood… that fact doesn’t change with my mood.

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    • I agree we cannot ‘pretend our pasts did not happen’ or were ok. For me, this is more I need to stop living like the past is my present and bad things will always happen. (I too had abuse in my childhood). There came a time for me that I needed to stop reflecting, and digging and blaming, and try to live in the now.

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