Mind the bear trap

Self-help and motivational teachers, psychologists and therapists fall into the biggest bear trap of them all.  And we fall in with them.

Here’s how the trap gets set:  you’ve had some bad experiences in the past, but you’ve got to get over that and stop being a loser/depressed/anxious/a  failure, they’ll say. You’re not your past!

Suitably inspired, we then try to work through our past and our assumptions so that we stop being a loser/depressed/anxious/a failure.

Congratulations.  You’re in the trap!

So how did that happen?  We all walk around with the belief that this ‘I’ is somehow different from its experiences or past.  Therefore, I can change aspects of my behaviour, attitudes or belief; I’m in control central and can alter those things about myself that hold me back.

But just suppose that this is the greatest illusion of them all: that this sense of me, the ‘I’, is a feature of the past itself.  If the ‘I’—which wants to be happy, successful, acknowledged and so on—is a characteristic of the past, it cannot change anything.  In fact, any attempt to change or improve is a continuation of the past itself.  It’s a little like a dog chasing its own tail.

When that is seen, clearly and profoundly, there is the possibility of true change.

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