It often seems like our past experience is calling the shots. Here’s how it works: When we’ve had a bad day, or a bad experience, we put that past experience into our “future,” as something we’re afraid might happen again, and something we want to make sure doesn’t happen again. Or if we’ve had a great day and something we did worked well, we store that past experience in the future, too. So essentially, we take our experiences and circumstances, which are behind us, and put our decisions about them—how we feel and think about them—in front of us. In doing so, we lock ourselves into relating to the past (or some facsimile thereof) as if it were going to happen again in the future. That’s the wiring.
Trying to resist or avoid the enormous influence of the past keeps us foolishly focused on it. Yet we’re reluctant to leave it behind, reluctant to transform the hold it has on our present-time lives. Not doing so, however, results in a “now” that’s shaped by and littered with the stuff of the past.
If we take out of our future everything from the past that we inadvertently placed there, then what’s in the future is nothing—nothing like a “clearing,” one in which we can be fully ourselves. It is from nothing that a “created future” can come into the picture. If we’re going to create a future—in our relationships, in our work, in our lives—it’s a matter of saying so. It doesn’t rest on anything—it rests on nothing and that’s the foundation for possibility. In creating possibility, we get to know what’s possible in being human.
By Nancy Zapolski, PhD