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!

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Mentors

Today I was offered a new project to work on with my previous boss; same salary, more control, familiar team and prospects of working in the States for some of it. I felt the pull, and I could taste the regularity of my skinny cappuccino sipping back into my life. I could work on it for a few months and then think about going it alone, perhaps this project would arm me with better skills to go it alone. Something held me back and my hesitancy was detected. I was keen that it not be thought of as being ungrateful and after much probing from my former employer I managed to utter the words that I was thinking about going it alone. Even as I said the words I felt foolish and doubtful that I could even do what I was talking about. The reaction I received was one of support and understanding from someone who had decided to go it alone when he was just a year younger than me. His support was a real blessing as I appreciate the investment he has made in me with time and patience over the last two and a half years.

Knowing that the cat was out of the bag, it made me think there was no point in holding back and I decided I would hand in my notice tomorrow, meaning I will be out of work much sooner than I anticipated which is exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. I began thinking about my boss’s words of encouragement and it made me think about the mentors I’ve had in my life, and the other times when I’ve felt I was missing the guidance I needed. For a while I thought the answer was in one long term mentor who was perfect, and believed that if only the right person took me under their wing I could achieve amazing feats.

In Dr. Dyer’s Erroneous Zones, he actually declares the opposite, that no one should be put on a pedestal above you, and that by doing so, you limit your own ability by saying “I’m not as good as them”. I found this difficult to believe at first. Surely there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to be like someone you admire? And how, at the age of twenty five, when in my eyes I haven’t achieved anything in the field of my dreams, be my own mentor? I realise that he means our strength should come internally rather than relying on anyone else to pick us up and make us feel better. This is easier said than done when you feel like the world has trampled on you all day and you haven’t a clue to what to do with your life. I do hope that one day I may have the resolve to be my own counsel, but until then, when the chips are down I’ll probably still ask myself “what would Bruce or Dolly do?”