“You have to entertain the idea that maybe you were wrong.”
Not that I did anything bad. Not that I misheard or acted incorrectly. But wrong in the sense that the things we used to do did not mean what we thought they did. That those same things did not make us who we assumed we were because of them.
Our brains make the same patterns over and over again. Connections reinforced our entire lives. Neurons working like muscles in groups. The most often used pathways become stronger and the others wither. Rivers cut so deep into the earth we assume they will never reroute. But they are. With time. With practice. With interference.
We don’t even notice it happening. We take the same route home every day and don’t even think about it. Lose ourselves in a Pandora station, a Snap Judgment podcast. Jolted back to our surroundings and movements only when we see a new construction site, a flower blooming. “When did that get there?”
It’s the same with everything. Often I don’t even notice the story I’m telling myself. Thoughts become truths before I know I have them. “We’re all destined to failure, to loss, to be completely alone in all this.” They repeat over and over again and morph into the corresponding wretched feeling. A loop so efficient it happens undetected.
I sink to the floor and say, “I don’t know why I’m like this. It comes out of nowhere. I’m just… I’m just broken and miserable and I always have been.”
But they are just habits. Paths of least resistance. Something someone taught me when I was a kid that I never learned I should forget. The only power, the only truth they have is their constant repetition in my own head. The ever-present dull ache turned acceptant whisper. “It’s always been this way, so it can never change.” It insures no disappointment in myself comes as a surprise.
“Of course. Of course I messed that up again.”
Anything we’ve learned, though, we can forget. My conversational Spanish, anything I used to play on a guitar, the names and faces of grade-school friends, the hurt of my first heartbreak. I’m sure they’re all in there somewhere. Tucked in a shoebox, shoved in the back of a closet, lost under a stack of more recent memories and a layer of dust. I didn’t need them anymore, so I stopped using them and they drifted away. A constant unconscious clearing of our neural pathways. But anything we do on accident we can do on purpose.
We can redirect. We can teach ourselves to forget how worthless we are. How damaged. We can teach ourselves to forget the hurt of the truths we created and learn different things instead. This time with intention. With conscious selection.Things that serve us. That hold us close and explain that we’re worth the work and we’re heading in the right direction.