There is a clear delineation between dwelling and reflection, introspection and torment, brooding and contemplation… It’s important to identify what is, and what is not under your control.
Abraham Maslow, an incredible psychologist, got it right. While most people, including his colleagues, had a lop-sided view of human nature to be neurotic and insecure, he studied the gradual progression of self-actualization in people, what great things humans are capable of if they realize self, then look past themselves to realize they do not have control.
It is the great strife of humankind to possess the unquenchable need to feel important, to belong, which is in direct conflict with how we SHOULD operate internally and externally. The vast-majority of humans are ME people, meaning, their number one priority is self. That’s not wrong or bad, its nature. Every ‘selfless’ act committed by a person, always has a self-serving meaning. This doesn’t make one selfish, but that is the key isn’t it?
Why are your problems more terrible than mine? Why are your successes more awesome than mine? This kind of thinking is derived from the inability to lose control. One person’s troubles, triumphs, loves and gripes only hold the weight of the aspects that are controllable from within, self-control…
Another brilliant psychologist, Carl Rogers, posited that we all need unconditional positive regard; simply put, that is love and support with no strings attached. It is unconditional because you do not expect anything from the other person, you aren’t doing it to get anything in return from them. Not to say it is not self-serving. Showing your true love, the kindness of opening the door each time you approach your car, is unconditional; you do it because you love them. But, it is not without reward, internal reward. It makes you feel good to do that. It makes you feel good to be good… that is a snowball effect I would LOVE to be caught up in; that is a perfect example of something that is under your control.
Now, plainly speaking, I can count 30 years that are no longer under my control. As the adage says, ‘you can’t change the past, you can only change your future.’ Realistically, ‘you can only try to influence your future by creating an aura of unconditional positive regard’.
This is where dwelling and reflection come to bear. Those 29 years I have no power over, have immense power over me. It is up to me to decide whether that power be quashing or uplifting.
“Learn from your mistakes” they say, well, it’s just as important to learn from your triumphs. Your years past are a treasure trove of wisdom and intellect, a vast library of resources to propel your future beyond imagining. My most recent step toward self-actualization, is that living in a bog of despair, guilt or shame based on mistakes is a path to a destructive future.
Living in a university of intelligence that is your past experiences is the path to enlightenment.