The Past Has No Power

Catching a glimpse of the way your experience of life gets created has many unexpected side-effects, all of them positive as far as I can tell.

One of the most powerful things it can reveal to you is the fact that the past has no power to create your experience of the present. It looks like it has that power, but it's just a great illusion that we all get fooled into believing is real.

Yes, we have all had things happen in the past that were painful or challenging. And yes, we can remember and think about those things on a regular basis, and continue to feel bad as a result.

Whenever you do this, it will look like you are feeling bad as a consequence of what happened previously, when in fact you can only feel bad as a consequence of your present-time thoughts about what happened.

It's very freeing when you realise this fact, because you will understand that it is only thought-in-the-moment that has the power to create feelings. And thought comes and goes, if you let it. 

Paradoxically, It is not our ability to focus our thinking on a painful topic that frees us from it. For the more we think about something painful, the more we experience it as a pain!

Rather, it is our capacity to let painful thoughts go that restores our sanity and peace of mind. When we see that we are not our thoughts, and we are not obliged to take them seriously, we leave the door open for fresh thought to enter.

It's a relief to realise that there is never just one way you're obliged to think about anything. Better still is to know that you don't have to work on changing your thoughts in order to feel better - they change by themselves if left alone. 

The implications of this are huge, not least for the fields of psychology and self-help, and this is what excites me about sharing this understanding with my colleagues in the helping professions. Not only can their work be made a lot easier, it can bring genuine hope and the possibility of deep and lasting change for their clients.