Quick Key version


by David Truman

Some people claim they can't be free, because they're limited by the past. Not true! The past is dead and gone. A person can think about it, and reenact it, and thereby try to bring it to the present moment; but obviously, the result is just a present dramatization about the past -- not the past itself.

But even though it's an illusion that you are limited by the past, dwelling on any idea in the present has power. For example: If, right now, you think about something depressing from the past, you'll be depressed by that thought right now. Likewise, if you believe in the present that your past limits you, then in the present, you are, for all intents and purposes, limiting yourself. You're doing it with your present illusion that the past is acting upon you now.

Can we be honest? Dwelling in the past is exactly like self-hypnosis. Actually, it is self-hypnosis. Self-hypnosis is a reality, even though the illusions it creates are not. And the emotions it creates are real. How about this: "No one has ever loved me." Presto: real pain!

But I like potatoes

Even so, hypnosis is always voluntary. Any hypnotist will tell you this: "For successful hypnosis, I need two things:

1. A subject who's willing to be hypnotized.


2. A subject who accepts the particular suggestions I give him."

My college roommate, Tony, offered himself as a subject to the school's young hypnotist. In their first session, the hypnotist got Tony to remain seated in the cafeteria after every other person had left. In the second session, he suggested that Tony would skip the potatoes at the next meal, considering them poisonous. No way! Though he was in a deep trance, Tony emphatically drew the line: "But I LIKE potatoes."

In search of browner pastures? Why?

So, when you think your past is limiting you, it isn't. What's really happening is this: in the present, you are creating make-believe limitations with your mind. Why? Mainly because presumed limitations provide excuses: they seem to excuse us from doing what our souls would otherwise oblige us to do, and want us to do -- now. It can be awkward to escape legitimate obligations without a proper (that is, acceptable) excuse. Thinking/believing you're limited by the past is a handy way to get out of whatever you don't feel "up to." That's where self-hypnosis -- in the form of saying, "The past is limiting me now" -- comes in handy.

But here's the hitch: When you're mentally dwelling in the past, you are not here now. You're on a detour from you -- from being who you really are, and where you really are. And in fact, if you let it, that detour can consume most, possibly all, of your years. What a waste! What is your life without you? Not much. Mostly filler. Throw-away material. Of no particular significance.

The greenest pasture is NOW

Know that you can be you any time now. All you have to do is quit the bad habit of dwelling on the past, and using the past for an excuse not to live now. Instead of all that insanity, just be who you are, where you are, now. That way, you can have significant moments all the time -- if you want.