Wow. I just discovered something that blew my fucking mind open. Well, that’s not exactly true: it really stung, and it’ll probably hurt immensely if I accept it fully. Here’s the idea: you can interpret your history.
I was listening to Jordan Peterson on the Patrick Coffin how because he was talking about the self authoring suite, and he made the claim that you can interpret your history, and extract out of that a conclusion about your role in the process.
Here’s the example he gave. He had a client, she was 27 years old, and she told him about how when she was 5 she was sexually abused by her brother. As she was describing him, Peterson developed an image of the menacing older man. So he asked her how old he was, and she said 6. Her brother was 6 years old. Now as a former kid, I can confirm that the people who are one year older than you are much more mature and sophisticated and scary and intimidating than you are. So she saw her brother as this adult doing it, and up till that day, she interpreted that experience or those experiences as her evil brother, and now she didn’t like her brother and was suspicious of him and all of that for like 20 years.
But then another interpretation came onto the table: they were badly supervised children. 5 and 6 year olds don’t really know what they’re doing and what’s really right and wrong, so they can’t really be held responsible for everything. So therefore the parents should be held responsible, or whoever it was who was supposed to be supervising them.
Now, there have been experiences in my life where I was compromised and not treated well, and I never really extracted out of that the moral of the story. And that’s because what I’ve done is record it in my memory scientifically, meaning “as objectively as possible”. And I thought that by doing so, I would remember it the best way. I also treat everyone fairly by doing so, and I avoid the stuff that comes from being resentful and biased.
Approaching historical events scientifically allows me to therefore interpret them in an infinite number of ways, instead of remembering them as a fulfililng a certain narrative. But the problem with memorizing historical events scientifically is that you don’t really remember and extract out the moral of the story. If it was a bad memory, you don’t really figure out how you avoid getting into that situation, or, how you should get out of that situation. And this is a pretty shitty idea if what you want to do is to move forward unencumbered by memories of your past. Because what it means is you’ve chosen to pull out of your bad memories an interpretation where you’re not in control.
The key word in that last sentence is chosen. Because if I chose to remember things objectively, it means that I chose to ignore my role in those memories, meaning that I am kinda setting myself up to be the perpetual victim. And I did this under the guise of morality: if I remember events objectively, then I don’t really blame anyone for what happened. So that’s kind of painful. But, it also holds promise.
I can bring out values and interpretations from my memories without feeling guilty that I’m doing it incorrectly, and I won’t feel guilty for making my life better as a result of it.