By Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
Do you realize that your past experiences hold the key to a better
future! Each of us can learn to unlock the door to a better future
by understanding the promise that exists in our own unique
Many times in life we struggle between hope and
hopelessness. One place to find hope is in the promise of your
own past. No matter how difficult your childhood may have been
or how busy or anxious you felt, the jewel of your own potential
still showed through at times. Maybe it was what kept you going.
Perhaps you loved dance class as a little girl or singing songs
with grandma, or cooking, or growing vegetables, or taking care
of a pet. Maybe you had a rock or coin collection that meant a
lot to you. No matter how gummed up your earlier days were,
you lived them and within them was the promise of your own
Sometimes your potential may have shown through
just because of dysfunction or difficult times. For example, if
your family was fighting you had to find a way to escape.
You may have connected with yourself by climbing up into
a tree house that you had built and decorated with your own
hands. Problems at home may have pushed you to study harder,
or to learn to do something better, so that you could spend
more time with your studies or your hobbies, and less time
thinking about your problems.
If you can get back to your own sense of promise--then hope
can reemerge as you see ways of reinventing yourself.
Of course, as we get older and evolve, some dreams are
gone forever in terms of being practical. For example, we
may not be able to be a commercial airline pilot if we never
learned how to fly, or a conductor of an orchestra if we have
not pursued music theory.
Although we can't make all our
own choices in life, we can make a lot of them. We often
decide where we will live, whom we will marry, how we
will live, how we will spend our leisure time, etc. Also, as
we get older we have more options to work out, a compromise
between our dreams and what might be a practical reality.
We have more capacities to resolve a situation and creatively
find a way to bring forth one's promise from childhood into a
Is making a positive future easy? I wouldn't call it easy,
but having a future with meaning, hope and joy is obtainable.
That's the beauty of your own promise. It's obtainable if you
are willing to be practical and very specific.
It is crucial to
learn how to look back into your own past, to discover unique
enhanced states of well being. As you begin to recognize these
positive states of well being, i.e., THE ENCHANTED SELF,
you can become a better expert at understanding what made
them heightened joyful times.
It may not be enough to
remember a wonderful day that you spent at the circus with
your uncle. It's pleasant to recall but it may not teach you
enough in order to help you find your own promise. You
have to be more specific. Why did you like that day? Was
it the weather conditions? Was it the way you felt that day?
Was it being with this particular uncle? Was it something you
saw at the circus that excited you? Was it something you
purchased? Was it something you ate? Was it the way the air
smelled? And so on. The more you can specifically isolate
what made the memory enchanting, the more you can practice
positive states of well being.