Greenbrier Academy: On Choice and Change

Sometimes we learn that negative things in our past can provide new lessons or meanings for who we are today. Such realizations help us understand who we are. The self is built from others, feelings, body, actions, behaviors, attitudes, spirit, history, ancestors, roles we play (i.e. daughter, student, teacher, etc.), society, thoughts, beliefs, and other aspects that contribute to who we are and who we become.

The Past

Let’s look at how we got to be who we are today. The past is an influential present power. Our memory helps us place meaning on the past. We cannot recall every detail about the past because we selectively remember what is important to us. In this way, we also selectively forget details. The past does not exist without a thought or memory of what has happened. The past is what you create in your mind as a place a present meaning on it. The past and our history can change as we change our present meaning of that narrative account.

Reach back to a memory that you have changed the meaning of in your mind.

Describe your old account of this memory.

Now explain your new outlook of this memory.


Before we say, “I want to change”, we have to realize that we are already changing. We are not static in our being: cells die, hair grows, we age. Nor are we static in our identity. We are constantly changing and this includes our relationships with self, others, earth, spirit, mission, and purpose. As dynamic persons (spiritually, emotionally, and physically), we are not fixed things that do not change. With this in mind, ask yourself:

As I change, who will I change into? How can I have choice in the change of who I am? How do patterns manifest themselves? How do we choose to change patterns? How do we change? What parts need to change? What can we change?

One of the worst, most hopeless, and most helpless feelings is that life will not change. When trapped in this state of mind, people think, “Bad things will always happen to me” or “I never have luck on my side”. In this mind frame, people focus on being stuck without being able to relate.

I believe that the most fundamental fear a person has is the fear of being alone. Being alone may take the form of not relating, being rejected, feeling unaided, or experiencing loneliness. For example, rejection means being removed from relationships; in other words, it is being alone and being unable to connect. Rejection may take the form of not being accepted by others and thus being isolated. Another example (and something that some people fear greatly) is death, which may be associated with the underlying fear of being separated from another and no longer being in a relationship.

Here emotional pain and wounding stems. Our reaction forms the next steps in our meaning and choice. For now, remember that if you have hatred in your heart, it affects all of your relationships. If we constantly feel anger, fear, worry, or hatred, it impacts everything about our self. Fortunately, we have choice, which guides our ability to change in the way we aspire. What current memory or part of your life could you find new meaning in? Take some time to ponder the questions above, looking for better ways to understand how hardship, loneliness, anger, rejection, or some other less-than-positive aspect could be reinterpreted to give inspiration or new meaning to your life mission.