To What Extent?

The influences of the past can either limit or empower.

To What Extent?

When we think about the influences of our past, on the present and the future, it’s worth pondering on the extent.

For example, I often find myself wondering about character. I think about the people around me during my developmental years, and ponder the extent to which this has moulded, my character. The question is, am I satisfied with this? The answer is a resounding no.

In particular I think about my biological father. For starters, and on a purely observational level, during the later years of my childhood his behaviour became increasingly erratic and unstable. Mental illness was very much a feature in my family. As an isolated individual he had no friends, no social life (apart from the ‘Chess Club’ where it wasn’t necessary to talk to anyone). There’s also a distinct lack of any clear memories of him ever mixing, on any meaningful level, with the rest of the family; my mother included.

Reflecting on my present situation I can see the similarities. 

There can be a tendency for me to isolate myself. Even recently, I found myself admiring the life of a solitary person, who had recently died. Whilst doing this, I’d very conveniently managed to circumnavigate, that this person was alone, for reasons that weren’t entirely wholesome. His beliefs were quite restrictive and his life fairly restrained. The life of a solitary individual is only ever going to be.

With all of this considered it’s important that we recognise the limiting aspects of our character that we continue to live up to. 

Children will model themselves on those they’re dependent on. This is an attempt to gain favour. It’s understood from a very early age, that people like versions of themselves, the best. Therefore, children behave and display similar character traits, to their carers. The issue here, is that this can follow us, into adulthood. Even long after those we grew up with have either died, or we’ve physically distanced ourselves from, we retain their characteristics.

All our lives we can be attempting to gain favour with those from our childhood past. We can ask ourselves if these people led happy lives, and if the answer if no, we must ask the secondary question of how we are also fulfilling this same destiny. 

There will have been aspects of my biological fathers character that had value; his whit would be an example. Even so, there are many other negative and limiting aspects, that stay with my mind. These, unfortunately, easily outweigh the most prevalent positive one. On a personal level, it’s important for me that I retain a kind of daily reinvention, of myself. I see my character as something that is fluid and changing, rather than fixed and easily recognised, by others. This can be the end result of questioning the beliefs that underlie our character.

Like me you can ask yourself this: What needs to happen for me to find the happiness I rightfully deserve?

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