FORMATIVE EXPERIENCES – ONE MORE TIME
Still ploughing away on my semi-autobiographical book, tentatively titled, “THE WISE OLD MAN & THE KID – A Guide to Living a Positive Life", and I’ve been struggling with how to shake off the shackles of our formative experiences and the negative impact they have on our thinking and attitudes. And, indeed, on the person we think we are – our self-image and identity.
Things are beginning to crystallize in my mind. So here is a re-worked version of my last blog posting on the subject (you may recall the silk cord analogy) – which is also an extract from my book. I’ll be writing a further post on this topic soon, with some controversial metaphysical conclusions!
What if we being on this planet is not the result of some sort of cosmic accident, mismanagement or misfortune? What if there is some kind of celestial plan behind the seeming chaos and pain of our lives and of the world in general? What if it all really does make sense? And what if there is a way out of our pain, problems, fears, guilt, despair, sense of lack and emptiness? What if there is a way of rising above our self-imposed fears and limitations? What if our future can be different to our past? What if our lives have purpose and clear direction? What if we can find lasting happiness and peace of mind? What if, through our example, we can inspire others to walk this path as well?
It seems to me, based on my direct experience, the journey available to all of us, is the opportunity to overcome the obstacles placed in our minds by ourselves. Many of us have placed them there through our interpretation of our formative experiences and we used those interpretations to ‘design’ the person we think we are. The journey available for us to choose to take, is all about removing those obstacles we’ve implanted in our minds. It’s about doing a make-over of ourselves and overcoming our self-doubts, fears and limitations.
Our parents, teachers and peers can have a huge influence on who we think we are and the persons we choose to turn out to be. Many of our attitudes, values and behavior from our formative years come from them, some willingly chosen by us or through our perception of how we believe others see us.
I think the following analogy is of Buddhist origin. Imagine yourself as a beautiful silk cord. One that becomes progressively more knotted as you take on board the demeaning imprints of your formative experiences. Over time this lovely silk cord becomes a massed tangle of knots, so much so that it’s difficult to identify what it really is.
I’m sure many who have taken on board the misperceptions of their parents and others, begin to understand as they mature into adulthood, that the limited, demeaning image they’ve inflicted on themselves is totally false and must be rejected in order for them to grow emotionally and spiritually. They begin to understand they are not duty-bound to embrace others’ warped perceptions of them and their worth is not dependent on the errors made by others.
However, in my case, I was a late bloomer in the maturity stakes and never questioned the source of my self-doubts and perceived inadequacies. So, when I reached the realization the identity I’d settled for hadn’t brought me satisfaction or happiness and, indeed, had delivered only pain and suffering either physically, mentally or emotionally, I still had the emotional intelligence of an infant and was seemingly powerless to change my thinking and attitude. That’s when the Universe stepped in.
For me, and other wounded and emotionally immature people who still choose to play the innocent victim, we’re then presented with a made-to measure, individually designed and perfectly appropriate wake up call. If we choose to heed it, it becomes our turning point and we then begin our journey back to reality, back to our true identity. We begin to untie the knots. We begin to correct our past mistakes, banish our self-doubts, ease our pain and experience more frequent tastes of joy and peace of mind. Eventually the pristine, un-knotted silk cord is restored and we’ve discovered, or remembered, who we truly are.
Does this strike a chord? (pun intended).