The Lens of Past Pain

The past is important for the lessons it teaches us, but, when we look at the present through the past’s lens alone, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to experience the future in a new way.

It is easy to look at what is happening to us and around us as a new iteration of something we have experienced before and to see the person or persons in front of us as a more recent manifestation someone from our past.

If we look at everyone or everything as merely shadows of an archetype, we do not give them the opportunity to be different than our expectations. Nor do we give ourselves the opportunity to experience our future differently than we did our past.

Perhaps we think that by associating what is happening now with what has happened before we can avoid new pain. On the contrary, this type of fear based outlook on life all but guarantees that we will relive our past over and over again, putting us in a perpetual cycle of fight or flight against our personal ghosts and demons.

Recognizing patters in our lives and in ourselves is important for our personal growth, but these patterns are ours alone to transcend. We cannot transpose them onto others. We must give others and ourselves the benefit of the doubt so that we can have a future that is not built of our past pain and the fear it has created in us.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Artwork by Ana, except where otherwise noted

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