by Linda Martella-Whitsett and Alicia Whitsett, authors, This Life Is Yours
Once you activate your spiritual capacities by committing to intentional action, you begin to see yourself more clearly. You open to the whole of you and begin to craft a fullness of life that leads to feelings of well-being. You learn to respect and be responsive to your intuitive wisdom, out of which arise clues to your own innate capacities. By honoring your past, your feelings, your needs, and your ability to wait, you become better able to honor your wholeness and to embrace your whole life.
HONOR YOUR PAST
The past is a chameleon. Although certain facts can be chronicled — recorded in a birth certificate, documented in a census report, or reported in a newspaper article — facts as you remember them change with each telling of your story. In essence, you change your history every time you revisit it.
Memories are fluid and, as such, unreliable, inconsistent, and incomplete. Facts may remain facts, but memory is subjective. Psychology explains this phenomenon. Every time you revisit a memory, you tell a new story — one that comes from the full force of who you are today rather than who you were when you first lived that experience. In other words, today’s you is different from yesterday’s you! But if memory is so changeable and unreliable, what is its value and how can you honor your past in a way that fosters healing? You can start by seeking understanding or clarification about the things that have bothered you.
Memories are distinctive and often contradictory. You infer from them meaning unique to your personal story and your personal wounds. You may be clinging to a memory that carries weight for you, but pay attention when your memories are very different from those of your siblings or classmates, especially if you harbor resentment or if you believe something in your past prevents your living well today.
For example, Linda spent years longing for her mother’s approval, feeling she was judgmental and impossible to please. But not everyone did. She and her siblings have very different memories of their childhood — almost as if they were growing up in different households. Linda healed many of her own issues by listening to the other voices from her past who gave her the gift of their unique perceptions. In fact, recounting different details of shared experiences promotes connection, which is another way to honor your past.
Genealogical research has become a form of popular entertainment, as evidenced by television shows like Who Do You Think You Are?, Finding Your Roots, and Genealogy Roadshow. Revelations about an ancestor’s character and behavior often move us to tears. When we find a thread of similarity in an ancestor’s story, or the reproduction of a family trait, or the sense of a common cause, we tend to be healed by the revelation. Whether your ancestor owned slaves, was an abolitionist, or was enslaved, you realize that your destiny flows from theirs. Whether they fought on the right or wrong side of the revolution, you claim them. You relate to their courage, their endurance, and their resilience. You connect with their creativity or work ethic. You come from them. You belong to them. You honor them.
As genealogy proves, unknown aspects of your history can still affect you. And it is equally true that you may know something about your past without having conscious memory of it. Psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas coined the phrase the “unthought known” to suggest
what you have experienced, and therefore know, but have not thought about. The unthought known represents your early life experiences before you had words to describe them or the awareness to think about them. In cases where family secrets are harbored — especially traumatic secrets like questionable parentage, incest, or addictions — children can grow up with a sense of something important that is hidden or best not thought about, yet felt.
When you review your past and reflect on all that has shaped your present experience, if you become aware of an unthought known, you can trust that it is coming up so that you can inquire about it, resolve it, and heal it. Honor your memories and your impressions of the past.
Affirmation to Honor the Past
My present has been shaped by my past.
Memories come as gifts to my awareness.
I honor my memories even as I question them,
Searching for the truth in them.
I remain curious and open about my history,
About the forces and faces that connect me
To the world beyond my borders.
Folding in, integrating, harmonizing
Everything I remember and learn about my past,
Adapted, and reprinted with permission from Hampton Roads Publishing, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser LLC, This Life Is Yours by Linda Martella-Whitsett and Alicia Whitsett is available wherever books and ebooks are sold or directly from the publisher at www.redwheelweiser.com or 800–423–7087.
Winner of the 2011 Best Spiritual Author competition for her first book, How to Pray without Talking to God, Linda Martella-Whitsett is an inspiring, respected Unity minister and spiritual teacher. Linda served Unity of San Antonio as senior minister for 14 years before becoming Vice president of Unity Prayer Ministry providing global prayer support 24/7. Linda has a BA in leadership from Bellevue University and lives in Kansas City, Missouri. Visit her at www.ur-divine.com.
Alicia Whitsett is a first-time author and a lifelong student of Unity teachings. She has a BA from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin