I am not my past…or am I?


picture this; an impeccably dressed young man walks into the boardroom ready to give his address. Let’s give him the name John, i mean, why not?

John is visibly nervous despite having spent the last three months preparing for the topic he’s about to present. He’s got over ten years experience in this field and his audience is made up of his peers, some of whom he went to high school with! So why is he running a storm of sweat under his shirt? He nervously clears his throat for what seems like forever before finally speaking.

“My name is Dr John Mwansa. I have three degrees from….” he goes on and on for the next forty minutes talking about his qualifications and explaining Why he deserves the right to stand before his peers and address them. Bear in mind, he did not invite himself to this meeting, he was hand picked by management so he has absolutely no reason to justify his presence. When the QnA  section of the meeting comes, John is dismissive of almost all the questions and thinks everyone is out to get him. He is hostile and very challenging in his responses and he doesn’t forget to remind everyone of his qualifications any chance he gets.

Two days later, Catherine his wife gets a call from a friend at that company and she tells her; “I had no idea your hubby had changed so much. Since when did he become so arrogant and pompous? Everyone at work is talking about him!”

Catherine is befuddled to hear such sentiments about her ever cool, collected and humble husband.”That can’t be My John,” she confidently says.

Why do you think John acted that way during that meeting?

Of course there could be a number of reasons but the main one that neither his wife nor his colleagues knew was that John was bullied in high school. He did everything possible to stay under the radar all through high school but during his first year at college he met Catherine who made him feel on top of the world. She encouraged him to pursue his dreams without any fears and soon enough John was earning himself degree after degree, hitting the gym every chance he got and always made sure he looked his best everywhere he went.

Anyone that knew John from way back would testify he was no longer the boy he used to be back in high school. But would you be surprised if I told you that despite all the changes, John was still very much living in the past?

Let’s now get personal:

Why do you behave the way you do? Why is your personality like that? Have you ever wondered why you are constantly seeking validation from others, or why you treat your lovers or people you care about like dispensible objects, or why you feel the need to have multiple partners of interest at once, or why you beat your spouse every chance you get, or why you lie your way through everything, or why you feel the need to have everyone notice just how rich or highly educated you are, or perhaps, why you are so insecure about everything?

Please bear in mind, I am also asking myself these questions!

Have you ever wondered why you always need everything to be so perfectly done or why you check for yourself always if the doors are locked despite having watched or heard someone lock them? Have you ever wondered why you prefer dating people way older or much younger than you or why you can’t stand seeing open doors or drawers around the house? Have you ever wondered why you somehow always end up with people that treat you a certain way…that same type of bad men or women you are constantly drawn to?

And most importantly, have you actually made steps to deal with your past before claiming to have gotten over it and moved on?

Our past is not something we can simply wish away. Everything we are and are yet to become is somehow a product of the experiences we’ve gone through. A son that has grown up watching his father physically and mentally abuse his mother is most likely to become an abuser himself and likewise, a daughter that has watched her mother succumb to such treatment is most likely to end up with an abusive partner herself or worse yet, the aggressor in the rationship.

Growing up in a country whose culture barely touches on anything psychological, I have seen and observed myself and people around me acting in ways that can only be explained psychologically, Yes, even for those that are born again Christians believing that their pasts have been completely washed away and they are new beings now. I always use my failed marriage as an example: everyone kept telling me ‘get spiritual help.’ Thats code for keep praying and talk to a pastor. But deep down I know my ex and I needed more than just spiritual help, we needed psychological help too. And i know thats something most christians wouldnt want to admit out loud because ‘God is the answer to everything.” And I don’t dispute that. I believe that even In psychology, God is there!

Our personalities do not automatically change simply because the blood of Jesus has washed us clean. We need to take deliberate steps to actually become Christ-like and believe me or not, that involves dealing with our pasts head on.

Were you raised by relatives instead of your biological parents? How did they treat you? Did you feel loved or isolated? Say you’ve forgiven them, but do you know that the reason why you constantly feel the need to find appraisal in others could have a bearing in the treatment you received from the environment you grew up In? Indeed you forgave, but what personality traits have you adopted as a result of that past you’ve forgiven? Unless you identify that area that makes you act the way you do right now, am afraid to inform you that the past still has a hold on you dear friend.

Why would you rather buy that Benz or Range Rover as opposed to investing in a home for your family? Why don’t you like sitting in the front passenger seat or why do you prefer taking Euro bus services to Mazhandu? Why are you building an eight bedroom mansion for your family? What is all that room for really?

Why are you always falling for the same type of jerks? Forgive my french. They’re playas, disrespectful, abusive, they never really love you back the way you want to be loved or the way you love them? They’re always using you for one thing or another, they get tired of you sooner or later, they just can’t seem to commit, etc. Tell me again, between those 4 or 3 guys or girls, whose the common denominator? It is easy to point fingers at others and claim the victim tag but if truly we stopped and searched ourselves, we would be amazed by what answers we might find from our past.

Have you ever asked yourself why you need to have yourself an independent woman? Or why you want a man that’s rich and acts a certain way? Have you ever wondered why you are always the one to fall head over heels in-love first and it takes a while for the ones you’re interested in to notice you or let alone return your feelings? Why are you always the most vulnerable in your relationships and why do you always end up hurt?

Of course I am not saying that all the answers lie in your past, I am just trying to say that we are a total sum of our experiences and add genetics to that, we are the complete self. Even the people that seem to have everything figured out  (if such people really exist), it is either they have dealt rightly with their experiences or they’re striving to never be prisoners of it. Either way, if ever we notice something about ourselves, our personalities especially that makes us act a certain way and we find ourselves feeling unsettled or unsatisfied, My advise would be to revisit the past and identify where things started taking shape from. And if it turns out it’s nothing to do with our past, still I urge, find out why you act the way you do given certain situations or why certain things always seem to be happening to you.

The idea isn’t to stay in the past, the idea is to learn from it and become the better version of ourselves.

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