Springsteen Philosophy – Don’t let the past eat you up.

springsteenAnyone who knows me, knows how much  I admire Bruce. He has record breaking eye sight because every time I’ve been to see him I swear he’s managed to find me in the crowd and sing right at me…

Dreaming aside, the Observer Music Monthly caught my eye in January for featuring an interview with him talking about Bush, Obama and rebuilding the American Dream.  Amidst the politics was the steely Springsteen philosophy I have come to know and love, and it had to do with learning from your past:

“you carry it with you always…You better learn how to live with them, learn the story that they’re telling you. Because they’re whispering your future in your ear, and if you don’t listen, it will be contaminated by the toxicity of your past.”

The idea of the past repeating is one that I find myself mulling over a lot, especially as I have taken a new direction and I want some change in my life. Before leaving my job I wasn’t sure if it would change anything, sometimes a change of surroundings simply moves your problems to a new area. That is, if you yourself don’t change.

drastic change often fails, just look at those unresolved resolutions we set ourselves each year. What we don’t realise is the habits we are trying to changes are just that: habits. They have evolved piece by piece over the years until they are ingrained into our character, and trying to undo those over night often leaves us frustrated, self doubting and giving up on change.

Dr. Dyer suggests that just as we created these habits, to undo them we need to work on them bit by bit, and I strongly recommend anyone who is looking for some inspiration about change and going after your dream to read his fantastic book Your Erroneous Zones. That, along with 2-3 other books and a few heroes like Bruce made me leap into the unknown.

Bruce puts it another way:

“There’s a car, it’s filled with people. The 12-year-old kid’s in the back. So’s the 22-year-old. so it the 40-year-old. So it the 50-year-old guy that’s done pretty well…so’s the 30-year-old guy that wants to get his hands on his wheel and…drive you into a tree…” you carry your past experiences with you wherever you go, even if you change jobs, move to another country, you can’t leave your past behind, but as Bruce says “who’s driving makes a really big difference where the car is going.”

We’ve all had bad experiences, heartbreak, disappointment, humiliation. I think the people who find it harder to move on are those who pretend their past isn’t there until it’s too late, or feel imprisoned by their past because that’s what we feel we deserve. The ones who survive their past seem able to acknowledge these experiences, accept them as parts of who we are, but not as dictators for our future.

Bruce asks:

“How do you manage that thing that’s eating at you, without letting it eat you?”

I don’t think there is a set answer, it’s all part of the journey of discovery. For me it was putting the brakes on a little, stopping my expectations that I could change overnight, and reward the small steps of change. Leaving my job wasn’t actually the first step, there were a number of tiny steps which culminated in the mindset that I could leave and hopefully achieve a fresh start…with all my passengers in the car.

I’d love to know about other people’s experiences of self change, how they’ve managed to do it, if they’ve kept it up and what they learned from acknowledging their own past. Especially any newly freelancing people out there!

Your chaotic thought process isn’t wrong!

Have scruffy thoughts and be proud!

Have scruffy thoughts and be proud!

Ever wish you had linear thoughts?

I sometimes think it would be nice if my ideas formulated in order, from start to finish, and grouping themselves in the correct order of importance and theme.

Only sometimes though, because I also quite like the way our brains want to naturally work, chaotically swirling and stewing ideas and thought processes like a delicious slow cooking casserole of conception.

The way we think isn’t wrong, but I think sometimes the structures we use to express our thoughts are too limited and inhibiting for creative thinking., or indeed any type of thinking.

I first started using mind maps to revise chemistry during a-level. My dad gave me a book by Tony Buzan thinking that as I had joined the class a couple of months late it might  help me focus all of the information I had to cram. It was a bit risky as I had never used diagrams to revise before, only copious amounts of linear, hand written notes.

One bedroom wall ended up covered in A2 sheets of paper with colourful diagrams and they appeared like the scrawls of someone on the verge of a breakdown, but there was a great deal of method to this perceived madness.

My creative goals for 2009

The concept works in brief by starting with a central theme, creating the main subheadings as branches leading from this, and within those branches grouping together relevant connected points or thoughts. They also encourage colour to group common themes and diagrams to stimulate your memory when trying to recall these – especially helpful when trying to remember the varying structures of aromatic amines…

For me, trying a new way of thinking paid off and every time I have a project or piece of work, I usually start with a mind map. The beauty of them is that you can come back to it, add thoughts and new ideas and unlike a list, where you’re trying to jam in more notes at the bottom of a section you thought you had finished, there’s room on the mind map to grow each section in no particular order.

The mind map I have here is a little boring, and it’s for my goals of 2009 – so should at least maybe have a little glitter…

I like using mind maps because I feel that their structure matches the inside of my head more. Above all else, I love new methods of creative thinking thinking, planning and strategies so would be interested to hear if anyone else has used these or other ways of organising their thoughts.