One of a series of exercises and reflections for expanding the benefits of mapping and moving one or more feeling states…
The past does not exist. All we have of the past are our memories. And memory is notoriously unreliable as an objective record of what actually happened.
But even if memory were infallible, and we could faithfully recall and fully relive exactly what we experienced the first time around, our experience in that moment was limited by our narrow perspective on the whole situation. Our experience was a small, filtered fraction of the complex richness that is real life. Even if our memory were a perfect record of our actual experience, it would still be a slanted and incomplete record of the full reality of our past.
Take any childhood incident involving one of your parents, for example. What could you possibly have known of the real, fully alive, complex, flesh-and-blood person who was your parent? What could you possibly have understood about their motivations, their fears, their inner conflicts, their history? How could any memory of that incident be complete?
Even the most dreadful histories have within them the seeds of strength. Human lives are profound journeys through mystery, and every life is wide and rich beyond our small knowing. You begin to gain access to this deeper wisdom when you access your ideal states.
When you shift into an ideal state, take some time with your past. You don’t have to do it right away, but at some point within a few days of shifting a state, look back on those times in which the old, reactive state used to be triggered. Look all the way back, if you can, to the original situations in which that reactive state was first set in place.
Now, hold your ideal state, and look through its lens at those past experiences. What do you notice? What stands out to you? What can you learn about yourself, and about the others around you, as you maintain access to your ideal and review your history?
If you’ve shifted a series of states relating to these past experiences, shift your feeling awareness from one to the other of your ideal states to learn what unique perspective each can contribute. What else do you see that might have been true about the other people involved that you were not able to notice in the original experience? What else do you see that might have been true about yourself?
This is a powerful practice for developing compassion. As you review your history with the new wisdom of your ideal states, you learn to recognize the many ways you have shut yourself off from the beauty of life, the ways you have judged and limited and diminished yourself and others. And you learn that you always have the choice not to do that.
As you practice this through reviewing your past, you begin to find that you become larger in inhabiting your present. You are much less likely to get caught in those moments of judgment or withdrawal. You are much more likely to see the full humanity of whoever is in front of you, no matter what struggles they may be undergoing, no matter how they might be acting to deny or restrict their own humanity or yours. You will learn to inhabit a place of understanding and compassion, both for those difficult times in your past, and for those moments in the present where others’ challenges interface with your own.