Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘memories’

There is a Cherokee legend that explains how each of us is torn by the fight between the two wolves within us:

“One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

According to Cherokee wisdom, the wolf that wins is the one we feed. The lesson this imparts is applicable to many different aspects of our lives.

Memories are our past. There are good memories and bad ones. Dementia may delete large swathes of them, and there may one day be an ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ solution that enables people to erase particular memories from their minds. But in the general scheme of things, memories are simply part of each individual’s life, having been instrumental in making each one of us who we are. Some memories give us a warm and happy feeling, but – as in most things – the downside is that even when we are looking at things that remind us of our good memories, some less welcome memories are invariably likely to surface as well.

There are belief systems that involve rewriting the past. I have my doubts that we are all capable of doing that well enough to expunge experiences that have left serious scars. I have the same doubts about telling our brain to disregard what it has just remembered – the judge may tell the jurors to disregard what they have just heard, but that may well imprint it even more indelibly in their minds.

Instead, I believe we have a different choice – we can try to apply the Two Wolves approach. The memories are there and are part of the film that is in the proverbial tin of the Hollywood metaphor. If both rewriting and disregarding are unlikely to be effective, we may as well open our door to all the memories that bubble up in our minds – if we don’t deal with them, they are likely to keep making repeat visits. We can thank them for coming by, much as we might be polite to people selling door-to-door, see whether they have something for us that we’d like to have or keep, and then wave them on. We don’t have to invite them in and give them space, time or energy. After all, the more we dwell on certain memories, feeding them, giving them new life and invigorating them, the more that wolf will win. We can nourish the good memories wolf or we can nourish the memories wolf that causes us pain and distress. It is important to accept that the things we recall all happened and were real. They have already had a major effect on our lives. But that was then. It is not written that we have to allow them to give us ‘Groundhog Day’ experiences that repeat over and over throughout our lives. We can choose to let the past go.

There is definitely no law that says we have to let the same dog (or wolf) bite us twice.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »