I think living multiple lives is a real thing.
Stick with me here; this one is a bit of a deep dive…
Here we go
It seems to me that each of us, within one lifetime lives multiple lives. I alluded to this notion in my last post but the concept got me thinking. As for myself, I have lived very distinct lives delineated by specific breaks or changes in location, job, relationship status. It’s easy, in my case to identify the time in my life when I was the adoptee, the mother, the business owner, the corporate executive, the wife etc. Sure, many of those overlap but they’re also each pretty unique times and each one has called up an equally distinct set of qualities and abilities in me to navigate them. Maybe I’m being too broad with calling it living multiple lives; maybe ‘personas’ is a more accurate descriptor.
I can’t be alone in this thinking, can I? I would imagine, regardless your path, you have presented multiple personas to the world around you, depending on circumstance. Maybe you’re doing it right now; showing one version of your self to your work environment and a totally different one at home or with your friends. Have those individual personas changed over time? Have you added new ones? I’d be willing to bet you have. Of course you have as you’ve grown, matured, learned.
But what if…?
But what do you do if the ‘you’ from another time is unwittingly controlling to the ‘you’ of today? In my years of going to therapy (intermittently not consistently although I think consistently might have been a pretty good idea), therapists have always guided me to pay attention to triggers. You know, those situations which, in isolation seem insignificant but for one reason or another draw up a well of emotion in you. If I’m responding with upset (or hurt, fear, anger, frustration… you pick) over something that on the surface seems trivial, exactly what am I reacting to? Is it something from right now or am I overlaying pain from the past to the current situation?
Is this my frightened childhood self reacting? Or my uncertain board member self? My hyper-vigilant analyst self? Sometimes it’s combinations, like a team of versions of me firing off their own idiosyncrasies, often misplaced and almost always unnecessary.
No one said it would be easy
It’s a tricky thing, I’ve found, to ease those past voices. For me, it requires pause, reflection, thought, all of which can be counterintuitive when you have a voice inside you shouting “Danger, danger, danger!” Tricky but not impossible and I’d like to think over time, I’ve gotten better at it. But it does require consistent attention and inward focus; probably easier now since it’s so quiet here (as I’ve also mentioned before).
I’m also a believer that the universe (or God or the Creator or whomever or whatever greater power you believe in) keeps sending us lessons until we learn them. They just keep coming. We attract the same people, stay in the same type of work, maintain the same kinds of relationships. Even if they are clearly detrimental to our emotional or spiritual wellbeing, we stay because we haven’t yet internalized the lesson they are meant to teach us. Or maybe we stay because we’re so busy listening to our past selves, we can’t hear what our current self is telling us we need?
So, if we aren’t learning from one ‘lifetime’ to another, what the heck are we doing? The task of carrying forward what serves you, (whether its behaviours, habits, friends, work, whatever), while leaving unhelpful ones behind and retaining new, learned improvements, it’s not easy! It’s a lot to sort out.
But yet again, I think the solution, although the ultimate example of “easier said than done” is to still you mind, your self. Listen. You are smarter than you give yourself credit for, I can almost guarantee that. Listen to where you mind, thoughts, dreams take you; they’re trying to tell you something and it’s worth a listen.
I guess this somewhat long-winded post is simply my way of saying, it really is worthwhile to pay attention to yourself. I know life can be insanely busy and demands can be pulling you in a million directions but taking the time to really listen to yourself (past and present versions so you can sort them out), is always worthwhile. It doesn’t take a ton of time; it just takes the effort.
Give it try.