Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
Memories. The word conjures images of times and people gone by—hopefully happy memories. But memories don’t have to be happy. Neither do they have to be true. We store our memories in our subconscious mind, but storage doesn’t improve them. Sometimes they grow fuzzy with age like the veggies we forgot in the back of the refrigerator. We can hardly recognize them any longer. And maybe they were never true. Our subconscious has no clue what’s fact and what’s not. It gobbles down whatever we feed it and treats it like gospel. If we can’t see what’s real around us, our subconscious isn’t going to correct our vision.
Memories that are fraught with emotion store best—especially the terrible ones. Perhaps evolution wants us to be sure never to expose ourselves to such danger again. Ugly, mean memories seem to last forever. They can scribble unhappy colors over the rest of our lives. Those hateful words an unthinking parent or teacher or doctor or playmate said burned themselves into our subconscious more surely than a bad tattoo. “You’re stupid.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” “If you aren’t number one, you’re the first loser.” If we’re lucky, we discover ways to correct the damage.
Realizing we’ve lived according to perceptions of ourselves and the world that we formed before we knew how to slough off poisonous barbs is sobering. Who would we have become if we hadn’t believed and absorbed the hateful words? What might we have done? What ugliness did we spread because that was what we were carrying in our emotional backpack? You can’t share what you don’t have on hand. Aging provides distance we can use to see how inconsequential those kids who teased us in school were. Distance helps us see that we don’t have to keep holding onto anchors when we’re trying to swim to shore. We can forget goals we once had that didn’t serve us well, didn’t make our lives feel joyful or fulfilled.
As I study the vagaries of the mind, I’m astounded by the sheer power of our thoughts to spotlight what we see around us. Some of us see only enemies—a dark, dreary sentence. Some have so little self-love that they attach to others who seem to be bright—not necessarily intelligent, just shiny. Like birds or bugs drawn to shiny things, they follow the gleam. They don’t feel any light within themselves. Their world is a punishing, treacherous place that they act out whenever they can. Kill or be killed. An eye for an eye. Bits of words they found lying in the street without context any longer. Just warnings. Fear. Tension. Beware of differences!
But our minds weren’t designed to be the foes we often make of them. We weren’t designed to live without the support of others. Our subconscious can deliver awe-inspiring displays of miracle and wonder if we know the language of images it understands. Lately, I’ve witnessed feats of mind that defy easy explanation. People call these incidents miracles, but they aren’t as rare as we assume they must be. Miracles are the stuff of daily life. Just because we didn’t know there was such a thing as quantum physics doesn’t mean it wasn’t there all along. If we don’t believe it, that’s because we don’t have memories of quantum physics to reinforce the strange new ideas. We look for the familiar, even if it’s ugly. Once we understand our minds better, we’ll look for evidence of a beautiful world that’s lying just below the nastiness, waiting to be found. We’ll look for evidence of our better selves waiting for their cue to come on stage. We were the ones who scribbled on the picture, after all.