Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mental Maps

Gordon Livingston is a psychiatrist whose book "Too Soon Old Too Late Smart" has been another that I have gained some valuable insights from. This whole midlife thing is characterised by introspection and sorting through of memories both good and bad.

Sometimes in using writing as a cathartic experience we do tend to concentrate way too much on the painful side of things rather than those that have been good for us throughout our lifetime. When I read through some of what I have written here it seems that I have had a lousy time, but that is not the case. It's just that the things that have hurt, or those that we do not understand, are those that we really need to put into context.

Livingston's first chapter is titled "If the map doesn't agree with the ground then the map is wrong." Most of us do tend to believe that things that have gone before have lead us to this particular place and time, not unreasonably, but we sometimes make the mistake of assuming that going forward we will end up in some other place. So we keep travelling down a track not realising that we've been lost for a while until we pull out the map. The mistake is then believing that the map has to be right for us, that our plans and expectations for our lives should have been one way but have turned out to be something totally different.

We don't approach marriage believing anything other than it should be forever, when we find that is not the case, we spend a lot of time examining the map and trying to make it conform to the new landscape when we perhaps should really just start to draw a new one.

I suppose one of the tricks in being able to move forward is that we must take responsibility for our own futures. It's often easy to blame people for past events, and for some even easier to wallow in self-pity and blame ourselves. But what we really should do is accept that whilst we can't change the past, we can give it context that explains who we are now so that we can choose who we wish to be in the future.


HollyGL said...

I agree completely that we should take responsibility for our lives. Not punish ourselves for - or dwell on - things in the past. It's amazing how much better it feels to live in the moment - the present. It's just not always something I can do without conscious effort. I am working on it daily, though.

Laurie Joyce said...

No one said it was going to be easy Holly. The thing is we often look to place blame for the problems in life and if we can't find someone else to place it on then we embrace it ourselves. So we get in a cycle where self esteem suffers which is hard to break. I am also working on it daily :)