You are a product of your experiences and the person that you are is a representation of those experiences. As of right now, you have experienced more than you did a year ago which means you are a different person than who you were a year ago. Many of the same experiences are still shared between Past and Present You, that year of experience is the only difference. When you look back on the events in your past, it’s important to remember that Present You did not exist yet. We often look back on our past experiences with the expectations of our present self, a neural path that is bound to lead to self-disappointment.
You are who you are because of the successes you’ve had and mistakes that you’ve made throughout your life. Present You is wiser than Past You because of the lessons that you have learned from the mistakes that Past You made. Lessons learned from mistakes cannot be used to prevent the mistake because it is in the past and the lesson would never be learned without it. Past You has no way of knowing what Present You knows, which means you can see yourself as separate from your past self.
When you see yourself as distinct from your past selves, you understand that your present self is simply a temporary form of you soon to be replaced by a Future You. You are constantly gaining new experiences every day that makes you different than the person you were yesterday and also different than the person you will be tomorrow.
Teachers often see themselves or their old friends in their current students and understand when their students make mistakes. They are young and inexperienced so you don’t blame them for their mistake. How could they know? When you examine Past You the same way as you would a student, you can understand where you were coming from. When you empathize with Past You, you’ll be able to forgive your mistakes. After all, you were still learning and those mistakes made you who you are today.
Looking back at Past You means you are examining yourself from an outside perspective. It allows you to see the logical steps of how Past you became Present you and now you are able to see your present self from an outside perspective. This is called Separation and it can open a new world of possibilities for you!
Separation is when your consciousness realizes that your body and perspective, we’ll call this the Organism, are not the only ones available to you. You have the ability to build a universe and relive an experience of Past You. You can also choose to live out the experiences of a character in a story if you choose. Your consciousness, when separated from you as the Organism, can become any character by empathizing with them.
Remember, empathy requires you to remove all ties your consciousness has to the Organism and take on someone else’s experiences. Think of it like a videogame, you do not share the same history as the character in the game but you can see through their eyes and empathize with them.
We all play different characters of ourselves based on what we need to do or who we’re around. The person you are around your family might not be the person you are in an important meeting. Likewise, the version of you who loves poetry might not be present while you’re playing sports. Here, your consciousness is in control of a specific version of you but it can switch to another version when necessary.
When you love someone, you appreciate them for their strengths and their faults. As long as the intention is in the right place and they try their best, it doesn’t matter whether a loved one fails or succeeds, you still love them. We encourage our loved ones to push beyond what they think is possible telling them something like, “The only way you can truly fail is if you don’t try.” The encouragement is appreciated and your confidence can rise up to meet your loved one’s expectations of you.
We are happy to encourage our loved ones because the problem’s they are facing are not our own. However, with the Separation of your consciousness, you have the ability to become the encouraging loved one for yourself. So often a dejected friend only needs a change in perspective to bring up their mood. If you can manage it, you have the ability to provide that new perspective!
Separating from yourself is not an easy task and often involves a few relapses when times get tough. If you can focus on empathizing with yourself, you can be proud of all that you have accomplished and endured. You can forgive your faults and understand how you got to exactly where you are. If you understand yourself and your surroundings, you can then work to change anything about yourself. The power is in your hands, you just have to choose to use it.