Saturday, June 11, 2016

Your Past is Not Your Identity

In a scientific experiment, Julius and Vincent were born fraternal twins from the DNA of six fathers in order to produce the perfect child.   Julius was the healthy and perfect baby while Vincent was much smaller and more fragile.  The mother was told that Julius died at birth and wasn’t told about Vincent at all.  Julius was raised by a professor on a South Pacific island.  He was loved and nurtured, highly educated, and sheltered from the world.  Vincent was placed in an orphanage, believed that his mother had abandoned him, and he didn’t get the love and attention Julius received.  Later, he ran away and became a con artist, doing his best to survive. 

When Julius turned 35, the professor told him that he has a twin brother, so he leaves the island to find him, discovers him in Los Angeles, and tells him that he’s his twin.  Vincent doesn’t believe him and abandons him.  Julius is tall and handsome and worked out; therefore, he was in excellent health.  Vincent was short, homely, and overweight.  Julius didn’t give up though, and continued to pursue and convince him.  After numerous humorous adventures, Vincent finally accepts that they are brothers, they become good friends, and Vincent changes his ways under the loving nurturing of his brother and their girlfriends.

This was the movie “Twins” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Julius and Danny DeVito as Vincent.  It’s a comedy, but at the same time, it is a great message movie and really made it clear as to how we can become who we are.  We are all products of our upbringing, culture, beliefs, and experiences.  Because Julius was loved and nurtured, he grew up to be happy and had a healthy self-esteem.  Vincent, growing up an orphan and never receiving love or nurturing, therefore, turned to crime and had poor self-esteem. 

There’s a true story in Tony Robbins book “Awaken the Giant Within” of two brothers close in age who had an abusive alcoholic father serving life in prison for murder.  One brother also became an alcoholic and ends up in prison; the other became successful and had a loving family.  Both were asked separately, “Why has your life turned out this way?”  Both gave the same answer, “What else could I have become having grown up with a father like that?”

We are all influenced by our past.  Some of us grow up with wonderful lives; no complaints.  Others go through horrific experiences that could destroy the best of us.  Neither way guarantees how we will be as adults and both stories above are good examples.  Julius had a great childhood and grew up to be a well-adjusted adult.  Vincent had a horrible childhood and ended up being a dysfunctional adult.  In the second story, both brothers had a horrible childhood; one grew up dysfunctional and the other well-adjusted.

So what’s the difference?  Our choices.  We always have choices.  Some people don’t believe they have choices, which is also a choice.  Our pasts shape our beliefs about ourselves, our lives, and our world, and that’s the key right there.  Once we become aware that we can change our thoughts and beliefs, then we can overcome most anything.  There are some exceptions such as severe mental illnesses, extremely traumatic events, etc., but there are stories of even these overcoming their pasts.  (Most children are also exceptions to this.)

What happens to some people is that their past becomes their identity and they don’t know who they are without their past experiences.  They’re afraid of who they could be without them.  It takes courage to step into the unknown not knowing what the future may hold, but when we do, we can overcome most anything that has held us prisoners of our past.  Nothing has meaning except for the meaning that we give to it, and we can change the meanings from our past and can become stronger and better human beings because of it!

We also have to stop the blame game and take 100% responsibility for our own lives.  Every person is only doing the best they can with what they know at the time, and many are living what they were taught or from what they experienced.  You can either be a victim of your past or a hero of your future. 

James Cisneros said, “Everything we are currently experiencing in our lives comes about in order to assist us in evolving to a higher level of consciousness.  Even what we now perceive as bad, sad, negative, or upsetting is here to assist us in seeing life in a more peaceful, forgiving, and loving way.”  And Byron Katie stated, “What you’re believing in the moment creates your suffering or your happiness.”  

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 10, 2016.

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