Yesteryou

David D. Cain on how the person you used to be still tells you what to do:

[We tend to] view our own beliefs as if they are real knowledge. I hadn’t realized how crusty and obsolete my impression of “dance music” was. In reality, since I’d last actively considered it, the sun had risen and set four thousand times, wars had been fought, borders had been redrawn, great loves had started and ended, eras had died. Children who were five then were now driving cars, and somehow I still felt like I had a pretty clear idea of what I was missing.

When thinking about who’s in charge of your life, David’s observation take you to a whole new battlefield: Maybe it’s not your parents, not your teachers, not that guy who treated you like an asshole back in 7th grade. Maybe it’s your old You.

To be sure, that old You doesn’t have to be a bad or stupid person. But chances are that, years after you last met her, she’s a very different person than Now-You.

The next time you’re tempted to say no (or yes!) to something, put Yesteryou on hold for a second. And instead, listen to Now-You. You might be surprised by how smart she is.

P.S.

And an interesting look at an adjacent problem by Jiddu Krishnamurti, sent in by a reader (Thanks, Melvin!):

Thought is response of memory, of experience, which are the conditioning influences. These influences are not only of the past but of the past in conjunction with the present. So, the past is always shadowing the present.

Comments 9

  1. Melvin October 11, 2012

    Thanks Florian, it’s a nice surprise to see that the quote from my email inspired you. I myself had an epiphany recently by realizing that I have been wearing a certain lense all my life without knowing it.
    The realization, obviously, didn’t make the lense disappear all of a sudden, it’s still there. But it changed my understanding of my reality, it changed the relationship I have with myself. I like myself, even my old stupid self much more now.
    I’m pretty sure that most of us, when we look back, see a stupid person and ask ourselves how could we have been so naive, so ignorant. If you can say that then in reality I believe you’ve made a giant leap forward and should be proud of yourself.

    • Fabian October 12, 2012

      Melvin, I think that’s a good way to see it! Getting conscious about ourselves is the necessary first step, if we really want to get somewhere. It can be the start of an interesting journey!

      And no worries about the name, it happens all the time! ;)

  2. Michael October 11, 2012

    I love this phrase, “Yesteryou”, how appropriate for bringing our focus back to the present moment. I think about it kind of like, we have a certain amount of energy to live each day, and we can use it to live completely and fully in the present moment or we can try to re-animate the days that have gone by already. And zombie movies notwithstanding, we all know how much it does not work to try to bring back the past.

    • Fabian October 12, 2012

      Ha, *especially* Zombie movies provide us with a fair warning! :)
      And, of course, Science Fiction isn’t necessarily better: Spending our days imagining “future-You” can be just as hindering. So I agree with you, Michael: It’s much better to be “…completely and fully in the present moment”!

      • Margaret October 12, 2012

        “Spending our days imagining “future-You” can be just as hindering.”….. not all the time!! This post made me smile because I just used Future-Me as a motivator in a recent post, and here you are, teasing apart Past-Me from Now-Me… Great Minds, right? ;-)

        • Fabian October 13, 2012

          Haha, that’s a funny coincidence indeed! Thanks for sharing, Margaret!

  3. Luke Stevens October 12, 2012

    So frail a structure we frame ourselves upon: a collection of cells with membranes just two molecules thick. They replace themselves with regularity, yet we think ourselves the same.
    Our thoughts remain, but our bodies have themselves rebuilt.
    Perhaps our thoughts be better served by aligning themselves with that which contains them, and undergo constant succession as well.

    • Fabian October 12, 2012

      Luke, that’s an interesting way to look at it. And surprising, isn’t it? How does it come that while the brain cells get exchanged so quickly, the memories and ideologies we’ve learned remain? Well, I guess we would run into a lot of trouble if it wan’t like that, but I like your idea of taking inspiration from our body and questioning our beliefs regularly!

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