It can be easy to feel like a victim of life. Looking back, you may see a string of unhappy circumstances that keep on repeating, despite your best efforts. Though this is a common way of thinking, it may be fundamentally flawed.
When we assume that we are a victim of life, we see life circumstances happening to us, rather than us creating them. This is where the faulty thinking originates. It may be more comfortable to blame our problems away; if ‘it’ is someone else’s fault, I automatically feel better. Yet, when we defer responsibility like this, we deny ourselves at a core level and cut ourselves off from our power to create change.
The problem is that many of us are deeply unconscious to our own thought patterns, and thus when we find ourselves in a particular set of circumstances, we assume we had nothing to do with their creation. To appreciate why and how this happens we have to look back, and understand a little about how memory forms.
There are two types of memory: explicit and implicit memory.
Explicit memory: can be recalled and you know you are recalling it, for example, if you think of what you had for breakfast. This type of memory only develops from about two years of age onwards.
Implicit memory: is completely different to explicit memory. Implicit memory is unconscious to us and is encoded into our tissues and neural pathways. This is the only memory formed in approximately the first two years of life, but it is also formed throughout our lives. Being largely unconscious to us, we tend not to know when these memories are occurring and believe the experience of them to be current reality. Implicit memory, is also laid down in particularly stressful situations, when the hippocampus, the part of the brain that holds explicit memory goes off line.
A good example is taking an instant dislike to a person you meet. Whilst you may assume you just don’t like the person, the chances are that something about them could have triggered an unconscious memory, which caused your reaction. In this example, you don’t know you’re experiencing a memory, you believe your reaction is about your current situation.
How does implicit memory affect my thinking and behaviour?
We may believe ourselves to be the creators of our own lives, making diverse choices every day. In fact, most of us are running our lives from very outdated scripts. Scripts that were usually laid down in the earliest parts of our lives, when our life circumstances where very different. When we are not aware of this fact, we unconsciously respond to current situations from how things used to be, rather than how they are and in doing so, we unwittingly re-create history.
So, if you look back and see a string of unhappy circumstances that keep on repeating, despite your best efforts, great! You’ve taken the first step to a brighter future! Seeing this pattern is the first step. The second is realising you are the author of it, and the third step is where the hard work comes in. To go beyond your limiting patterns, you will need to become aware of them. There are a ton of ways that can help with this including self-help books, meditation, asking trusted friends for honest feedback and therapy. It can be tricky to bring the unconscious into awareness and it may take time, but it is worth the effort. You have a rich source of creativity and potential, waiting for you underneath these patterns.