Memory Can Be A Problem

Life is a process.

NOW is all in.  NOW represents your history and your hopes, fears, and expectations for the future.  Ideally, we use the past constructively to influence future outcomes.  Moving on up.

Here in the real world, it does not happen so much.

How come that happens?

Some of the unpleasant past experiences dominate.  Recall Daniel Kahneman.  A bad outcome weighs twice as heavily as a good outcome of the same dimension.

Failures, lack of insight or experience, liabilities, abuse, neglect, hurt, blindness, and unfairness all get in the way.  For many people these can displace their achievements, well-learned lessons, accumulated assets and competence.

Then what?

When you let the bad past be dominant, the future is impaired.  For any of several reasons:

  • Inability to focus.  Remembering the bad things in the past diffuses effort to achieve the desired future.  Indecisive.  Insecurity.  Uncertainty.  Procrastination.  Anger.  Self-pity.  Accepting fate.
  • Focusing on the bad things in the past demands their continuity.  Maybe you need to continue it to preserve your self-mage.
  • Change is work and fear inducing.  If you have a reason for how you are, it is easier to accept the deficiency than change it.  You could convince yourself that things are as you wanted them to be.
  • Wrong lessons carry forward.  There is no such thing as a bad experience.  There is only learning the wrong lesson or more commonly, no lesson at all.  If your past is unpleasant or you think it is, you need to look for the useful lesson.  Look for how a bad experience can help you be successful in the future.
  • The future is an extension of the past so misunderstanding the past means a misunderstood future.  It is like having bad eyesight and an improperly fitted corrective lens.
  • Forgive.  Especially forgive yourself.  Hating, carrying hurts, and anger defeat you and have no effect on the person or situation you direct these negative feeling toward.  Like drinking poison and expecting that the other person will die because of it.

If you use the past to give you an excuse for the present and the future, you are doomed.  An excuse is a lie with a reason attached.  Most commonly, that reason is wrong.

Acting, based on history, excuses and often validates bad things.  Take a simple example that you can hear from half the teenagers in the world.  “I am bad at math.  I always get low marks.  That is why I got 37% on the test.”  The history provides an excuse for the present and it predicts the same failed outcome in the future.  It is both circular reasoning and it is self-fulfilling.  Not real smart.

Suppose a Martian arrives and objectively evaluates the circumstances in NOW.  Suppose further that he has no idea how they came to be.  Would he act differently to control the future than would the person who knew the history?

You would like to say, “No, he would act the same way exactly.”  However, you cannot honestly say that.

The Martian would see only the deficiencies in NOW when evaluated against the future.  He would choose to remedy them.  Since he would have no idea how the deficiencies came to be and no personal investment in them, he could not be able to rationalize any deficient approach to the future.

The defense is a bit fussy, but it works.

  • Make a list of all the things you want to do or have in the future.  Of course it will be incomplete.
  • Put them in priority order.  Use different colors.
  • Check for things that are not in the right priority order.  You cannot be a lawyer before you go to law school.
  • Have a cutoff. For now, ignore things with low priority.  The just add complications without real value.
  • Put them  the remaining ones on a time line.  Some may be more general and not easily placed on a time line.  You can usually overcome this by defining the want better.

Things are not so threatening when you can see the priorities and the time line.  Doing everything at once is not possible and it causes people to lose focus.  Work on the things you can.

What are you doing about what you want.

  • Analyze how you use your time now.  Include the reasons.
  • Analyze how you use your money now.  Include the reasons
  • Highlight the items that do not contribute to the future needs/wants.

Take a Martian look at the reasons you have presented.  Explain the reasons for what goes on in the present in your terms.

  • I cannot save any money yet because I have to pay down the credit card bill.  You might then want to decide how much of the credit card purchases could be stopped.  Pay off credit card can be made a future priority with a time period and budget attached.
  • I am too tired, or do not have enough time to exercise, get my degree, work overtime, or build my relationships.  There is no hockey this year.  Lots of extra time to do something productive.  Assign priorities to each task and allocate the hours.
  • People always treat me badly.  I cannot get the job I want.  Really!  They do it all by themselves?  No help from you?  Be serious.

Find ways to attach money and time resources with the future wants.  I know budget is a bad word.  Use short-term plan instead.  You can change a plan when you have more information.  Budgets are ground into granite.

You might need some help with this.  Excessive independence may be a carry forward from your past.  Don’t get caught there.

Only one question left.

What are you going to do about it?

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