See The Difference Between Then and Now (A Spiritual Practice) - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content

See The Difference Between Then and Now (A Spiritual Practice)


In this life, when patterns are not changed, such as when traumas are not resolved or when a person repeats a certain behavior due to lack of awareness, or when a person maintains a certain belief etc. Those patterns not only become stronger and are therefore magnified, they repeat. This is true across time and this doesn’t just apply to individuals. This applies to the universe at large, to the world at large, to species, to races, to societies, to family lines etc. There is an up-side to this and a downside to this. The downside is that this can turn life into a true hell spiral. You can experience something acutely painful and then, not change the pattern, so it repeats again in some way. And when it does, it has the potential to strengthen your beliefs, words and actions, thus feeding into the pattern more rather than changing it; making it repeat again, only worse. And this vicious cycle can keep happening, causing a person to become worse and worse. Often it can feel like it is happening to you, like a cruel curse, especially when you can’t work out what to think, say and do differently to change the pattern, so it doesn’t repeat again. And the reality is, even when you do make changes, sometimes there are multiple changes that need to take place for there to be a full pattern change rather than a partial one. So, it can feel like the pattern keeps repeating, despite all our efforts to make the pattern change.   

 The upside to this, is that when a negative pattern repeats, this is an opportunity for awareness. It is also an offering to think, say and do differently, so as to change the pattern and have a different, improved experience; so as to consciously create your preferred future. You can think of it as the universe offering you a built-in structure for awakening, expansion and healing into your life experience. 

When we are committed to awakening, to becoming fully conscious and then to consciously creating our life experience or heal, a great deal of our focus goes to recognizing these patterns in life that are repeating and consciously making changes, so that the patterns change for the better; so that life experience is improved. This means, if you are on the path of spiritual awakening, the path of self-development, or the path of healing, you are most likely putting a great deal of effort into recognizing how the past and the now are the same.

Recognizing how the past and the now are the same, is very important. Part of the problem in this life is that people fail to recognize how the past and the now are the same, and therefore fail to see patterns repeating and therefore fail to see where things are headed. But what is often overlooked is that it is also very important to see how the past and now are NOT the same. Seeing the difference between then and now, is what will allow you to actually see your progress, perceive your empowerment, resource improvement and not become re-traumatized by the feeling that no matter what you do, you are re-experiencing and will re-experience something painful and unwanted. Maybe even something painful enough that you feel you literally can’t go through it again. 

So that you can understand what I mean, here is an example. Madeline is one of those people who is very dedicated to awareness work. She is great at recognizing patterns that are repeating. She is amazing at seeing how the past is the same as the now. Some years ago, she realized that her boyfriends all end up intermittently emotionally disconnecting from her, leaving her alone in life. And she realized that this is a pattern repetition (or a mirror as it is often called) that began with her father, who was intermittently emotionally disconnected from her and flip flopped violently between being engaged and disengaged. This pattern has put Madeline in absolute hell. Just like before when she was a child, she feels like she is totally powerless to the other person’s disconnection. Just like before, she is in danger because a disconnected person can’t see or feel her enough to do what is right for her rather than what is wrong for her. Just like before, she is emotionally alone and is filled with that skin crawly feeling of being alone and unsafe, even when the other person is in the room, because it is just a body there with her, no actual presence. Just like before, the intermittent pattern started with something emotionally shocking happening to the other person in their life that she could not control, so just like before, there was nothing she could do to prevent it and now she feels doomed to be emotionally abandoned, no matter how hard she works to create closeness with the other person. 

Madeline is especially frustrated because she has been working on this pattern over the course of multiple relationships. She has been doing soul retrieval work on it. She has been doing parts work to integrate split aspects of her consciousness that pertain to it. She has been identifying red flags in men that might indicate that they can emotionally disconnect, so she chooses emotionally present partners instead. She has been leaving relationships when a man disconnects and puts no effort into re-connecting, rather than staying and incessantly pulling them to be connected again. Essentially she is no longer stepping into the pattern of taking full responsibility for the connection for the both of them. She has been seeing a somatic therapist to get help healing her insecure attachment anxiety. And at this point, Madeline feels like no matter what she has done or will do, she is powerless. Her childhood nightmare is happening all over again, and will continue to happen. And no amount of effort that she puts into preventing it, will actually work. So, she is being swallowed up by doom. 

Madeline has done one part of awareness work, but not the other. She has become aware of how the patterns are the same and how they are repeating. She sees what is the same about then and now. But she has not yet become aware of how the patterns are different and how they have changed. She does not yet see the difference between then and now. 

When Madeline does this part of awareness work, she becomes aware that the pattern is actually improving. It is repeating, but in a different way than before, which means that she is simply in a different layer or aspect of healing and of changing the pattern. And that in that, is the promise of it getting better. Here are some of the things that she realizes when she does this part of the awareness work: Madeline realizes that what is different is that she was a child then, and she is an adult now. Why that is important is that before, she literally was entirely at her father’s mercy. Her mother was not in the picture, nor was any extended family. She had no other resources as a child. As an adult, she can go out and find other resources. If one man is choosing to be disconnected, she can decide with her free will to either stay there waiting for him to reconnect again, or simply withdraw her focus from him and go find a different person who is choosing to be connected. Madeline sees that her current boyfriend knows he is disconnected, despite not doing anything about it. He is acknowledging it, which is different than her father and different from any other man that came after her father, but before him. Madeline sees that when she was a child and her father disconnected, she was literally all alone emotionally. Now, she has a best friend who she sees every day and who is completely there with her, so she is not all alone. Madeline sees that she no longer feels it is her fault that the man in her life disconnected, which was the problem for years. So, the pain of self-blame is no longer part of the equation. She sees that this time, she is in relationship counseling and she is not alone to deal with her boyfriend’s disconnection. Their therapist is on top of it and is taking pressure off of Madeline by being the one to confront him on it and help him to change what he is doing. This is something she desperately needed when she was a child and was all alone with the pressure of trying to get her adult father to come back to her emotionally, so it is actually a healing experience she hasn’t been resourcing. Madeline realizes a great many other things. But you get the point. That heavy doom she was feeling, lifts enough for her to perceive her progress and to feel less re-traumatized by the current form of repeat she is in. In fact, realizing the difference between then and now, IS a crucial part of Madeline coming out of her PTSD state, and experiencing the pattern change so as to experience healing. 

Your assignment, is to take whatever repeat experience you have recognized that you are having, and to consciously look for the differences between that experience then and this experience now. Write down as many as you can. The more, the better. If you want to involve other people in this exercise, feel free to do so. Because other people are less identified, they can often see our patterns, including pattern changes, clearer than we can. Some examples of things to consider might be how the current person involved is different than the original person the pattern started with, or even from other people in the past that have been a part of this repeat pattern. What different or more or better resources you have available to you now, this includes people. What smaller healing experiences you might be getting within the larger painful pattern. The potentials that exist now that were not even possibilities before. What knowledge do you have now, compared to before. What is different about your surroundings and environment than it was before. What the people who are players in the current pattern repeat are doing that is different than what those that were part of it before did. What you can do right now in this situation compared to what you could do before. What is going right in your life, that may not have been going right before when the pattern occurred. What you are doing in this current situation that is better or more empowered than what you did in the past etc.  

When it comes to awareness work, it is important to see the full picture, not just part of it. And remember that the purpose of doing this is not to use one to negate the other. It is important to see how things are the same, how they are on repeat. And it is important to see how things are different, how they have changed. You might just find this to be the antidote to the perception of powerlessness or doom that you have been looking for.







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