The Pressure of the Past

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Some people claim that the past is just a story and that it has no power over us. However, the consequences of our actions in the past can have much power over us in the present. We’ve all done things in the past that have come back to haunt us weeks, months, or years later. The past is not just a story. Yes, we turn it into stories through cognitive processing, but the past itself is more than a story; it is a slice of space-time, a set of events that have happened. Some of these events are reversible (e.g. the ice cubes you froze can be melted again); many others are not (e.g. you cannot bring your mother back from the dead).

Events are just events; when we determine their ‘meaning’ or ‘significance,’ we create stories about them. But the events are still the fabric of the past, and it is this fabric that continues to press in onto our present. We feel its influence in the form of consequences that turn up in our lives and mental habits that shape the direction of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. The past continues to shape the present even after its passing. We are shaped by it and shape ourselves in response to it.

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