Versions of You
Published Tuesday, March 30, 2022
What can cause debilitating stress in times of crisis? And yet, when faced with impossible odds, that same stress infuses us with seemingly supernatural certainty and definiteness of purpose? It is energy found in the conflict between multiple versions of "you". Unchecked conflict is chaos. That same energy, focused and aligned, brings forth the infinite possibilities to be found only within the chaos in balance.
What are the versions of you - simplified
There is a minimum of three of you. The "you" at its present, right now in this very moment (U-Present). There is the "you", that is your biography and summation of your past (U-Past). Finally, there is the "you", that is emerging from the future, a potential higher, or lower self (U-Future). Higher and lower being relative, subjective definitions.
Only with the bright light of rigorous honesty and fearless reflections, can you truly know this version of you. It is your lived experiences; your most painful and most joyful relationships. It is all the education from school, living life, successes and failures, the conscious and unconscious mental models mapped onto you brain. And, it's the loud and cluttered influence of infinitely downloaded information from social media, doom scrolls, 24-7 news broadcast, twitterverse, tik-toks, instagrams, and all their copy cats. This version of you carries a ton of baggage. Some worth keeping. Some in need of letting go.
Image: just some of the sources of programming, mental models, unconscious scripts that are carried along with your past self
This is the unlimited potential of what you are becoming. It is still formless. Potentiality stored in the desires, fears, worries that are held within you. It is a source of excitement or paralyzing fear of what could be. Sometimes it is both. It's the fork in the road just ahead, that splits off into an infinite number of possible timelines. It is the version of you, that you are stepping into with each intentional or unconscious thought, with each selection of emotion, with each choice of action. It is the result that has yet to emerge.
Image: "Higher" vs "Lower" versions of future you where there are depicted only four versions of the future self.
This version of you carries all that the past brings and holds all the potential of the future maybes. It is the hear and now. As soon as the second passes, it becomes the past. And it's the moment just before the future emerges into the now. It is the sacred space between breaths. When you are neither exhaling or inhaling, that is neither letting go of the past, or becoming the future. The version of you is where mindfulness practice is required. Where shadow work and understanding your entire past, in all its muddled memories and unconscious compartmentalization. And where the anticipation of the future is accepted and attuned to. This by far, is the most difficult to articulate.
How do these versions interact?
The present is constantly using the past to inform the choices to make to elicit the future When the present is unaware of what contributes to those choices, that is where the future that emerges is out of attunement with the higher version of the self. The future is an infinite buffet of possibilities. The more the present is mindful and aware of all the contributions of the past, the higher versions of the future emerge to become the present.
All this can get really confusing on a good day. Much less a bad day when the situation feels out of control. The difference between sane and insane can be a very thin line.
The movie, a Beautiful Mind, paints a clever picture to illustrate every day experiences. Spoiler alert, if you haven’t seen the movie, and I recommend that you do, take a break, rent it, watch it, come back here.
Russell Crowe, is a genius mathematician, that is followed by a couple characters. At first, they appear to the audience, as well as to the main character, as real people. He converses, seemingly interacts in very normal ways, with these imaginary people.
The movie comes to a tipping point, when the realities that are in his mind, start conflicting with the external realities.
The story ends with the main character, coming to terms with his realities. Acknowledging the presence of these personalities that are with him, but never go away. However he’s found a way to live harmoniously with them, the personalities inside his mind, and the realities outside of his internal world.
I can say with certainty that my life experience is no different. Albeit, without the Hollywood drama, and the official diagnosis of being insane. And I would assert, that each of our lived experiences, as humans, have more in common with this character than not.
In each moment we are constantly interacting with the past and future versions of ourselves. These versions can take on personalities and characteristics of their own, like your younger or adolescent self, or even your infant self needing basic love and affection. The personas can be starkly different from the present version of self. They can influence the present versions of ourselves so much, that it could be in conflict the present realities. Think of how traumatic events that result PTSD, mental illness, dysfunctional relationships, and destructive addictive behaviors make seemingly normal, high functional individuals behave out of their norm.
Not unlike the move, most live their lives unaware of the influences of the past and future versions. Part of the work in Integral Meditation helps to uncover the mental maps, the emotional and intellectual programming scripted onto our organic processing units. Becoming aware of this programming takes away the undue influence of the past version of the self. This gives space for the present version of the self to better leverage all the resources from the past version of the self and co-create with the future version of the self that is constantly emerging. With this work, the three versions of the self come into alignment. The chaos that sometimes appears when the three versions are out of alignment comes back into balance. The future version becomes a blank canvas for the present version of the self to select any number of possible selves.