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During a difficult conversation, where I was questioning some life decisions, a good friend of mine asked me, “What if you had amnesia?”
I was intrigued.
What if I woke up tomorrow and didn’t remember anything about the journey to get here? What would I think of my life? Which parts would fit me? Which relationships would I keep and which would I question? The exercise was brilliant.
It worked in almost any area of life and it helped cut through all of the emotional static that gets in the way when trying to decide the path forward. So often, our attachment to our choices and the history behind them colors the reality in front of us.
Instead of seeing a job we don’t like, we see the years of grad school that got us here and the comfort of staying with the familiar. Instead of seeing a relationship we’ve outgrown, we see the time investment and lean on warm memories.
The amnesia exercise counters all of what came before, all of the attachment, and starts with a clean slate. It takes some mental commitment; walking through your day imagining you just woke up from a bad concussion can be challenging, but if you can do it, the results are truly illuminating.
You wake up: do you even like the room you sleep in? The house? Is it something you would pick out again?
Do you like who you wake up next to? How do they treat you? How much warmth and support is coming your way? Are you surprised by your choice in partners? If you are single, are you surprised by your status?
Do you like how your day starts? Are you surprised by the work that you do or how you spend the bulk of your time? What’s your work environment like? Does it feed you? What parts of your day do you enjoy most?
Do you like where you live? Do you feel good driving around your community? What parts seem off? Would you choose it again?
Are your friends affirming? Do they reach out? Do they take more than they give? Do they support your growth?
Would you be delighted by the life you set up for yourself? Disappointed? Confused? Does it reflect who you are? What parts would be the most troubling? The most beautiful?
We get entrenched in our lives, unable to see things from an unbiased perspective. But if we were dropped into the middle of this life, without any prior knowledge, it would provide invaluable insight. It would alert us to the parts of our lives that don’t align with our inner selves or that simply need a little tweaking.
For a moment, we could step outside of our tarnished lives and be guided by our own inner wisdom.