Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.- George Santayana
I started my World History lessons this week with that quote – one of my favorites, something that I actually remember from high school, and a great “why” for my students who seemed less than enthused about the subject at hand.
I don’t generally do teaching in a traditional setting so this week was a bit of a change-up for me, and while I was nervous during my first “lecture”, following my lesson plan to the letter, I got more comfortable and was able to relax into it. In fact by the end, I actually really liked what I was doing, especially the unexpected dialogue with my class on the various topics we covered. They surprised me, and I love that. Although at one point, I did find myself quoting Ben Stein‘s character from Ferris Bueller‘s Day Off…
“Class? Anyone? Anyone?…Something d-o-o economics”
I’m pretty sure only 1 kid in 10 got it, but I was NOT about to pass up the opportunity to use that line.
Anyway, that’s just the setup. My point is that as I led my students to find how this quote applied to their lessons, I started thinking about how it applied to my life.
There are certain things I need to remember about how I felt about myself at certain times in my life, things I need to remember about situations that I’ve gotten myself into because my head wasn’t on straight, or I was acting out of fear or worse, boredom. Why? Because if I don’t remember them, I can’t examine them. And if I don’t examine them, I’m going to make the same damn mistakes all over again…and I would really rather not.
What am I talking about? Well, for instance, in the past I have had a tendency to push my feelings (more like discreetly shove with a lot of force) down and away so that I didn’t have to deal with them or their repercussions. Which feelings? Anger, for one. That started at a really young age, as I was deathly afraid of my father’s wrath. I became really good at “stoic”, at least when I was in his presence. It was better than crying because even at a young age, I realized all he wanted was attention from me and stoicism was a good sort of revenge for his emotional persecutions.
This had at least two unfortunate consequences – 1) I internalized all of that anger and began to hate many aspects of myself and 2) I started not allowing myself to feel other types of emotions. Positive ones, such as love in some forms (thankfully, not all), appreciation, happiness, patience and trust.
That’s a pretty crappy thing for a young kid to have to deal with, yes. And looking back now, I realize those consequences led the adult me to make many choices that were not really good for me. I accepted behavior from others that was less than I deserved. I didn’t hold myself in high enough esteem to hope that I not only deserved better, but if by chance I did get something better, then I was unable to receive that situation with gratitude. I felt undeserving. I became a perfectionist in many ways, hoping somehow that would prove my worth. With some people who showed me love, I became clingy and co-dependent because I didn’t trust them to continue to treat me well. Or on the flip side, I didn’t allow myself to get close to people because I was afraid of what they might do. I didn’t feel enough many times. I didn’t trust myself, and therefore didn’t trust many others.
What do I do about all this then? As I’ve stated before here, the last several months have had me more introspective, so I’ve already had some of these things on my mind. But now, I’m more determined than ever to heal from within, so that I am not condemned to repeat any of the aforementioned negativity. I’m learning to release those negative feelings when they come up (and they always will, I’m human after all), and expand the potential for the positive.
I will continue to meditate to quiet the negativity that springs up in my mind. I will continue to run and to practice yoga to remind myself how strong and beautiful I am despite negative messages I might receive from myself or others. I will be grateful. I will love. I will be patient and kind and appreciate those who show patience, kindness and love to me. I will trust again. I will be happy.
Lessons (hopefully) learned.