We are always piercing things together to form a reality. Everything we experience, whether personally or through stories or through both passive and active observation becomes fodder for our automatic, unconscious, reality-deducing machinery. We piece together all these bits of information and draw inferences, see cause and effect* and craft a strong sense of what things are.
This includes things that people can be or can become. Even if we are not it right now, or don’t use it right now, and maybe don’t even see ourselves ever becoming it, we know it and know how it operates.
So that in that moment when we become it, all that ‘knowing’ comes to the fore, because our mind grabs what it already ‘knows’ as a predictor for how to behave and, thus, as the way to succeed.
And there are many moments like that in our life, where we weren’t something and suddenly now we are: student, employee, citizen, on our own, driver, homeowner, significant other, spouse, parent… if it can be a label, it can be an it.
When that proverbial light switch flips and we find ourselves – suddenly! – in that new situation with that new label, being that it, we end up acting out just like things were done before.
Even if they’re not productive. Even if they’re not helpful. Even if they don’t represent the best expression of who we can be.
But we do it because that’s reality. It is how it is.
And then we laugh (or recoil) and say, “I’m just like my parents,” or we later say, “I understand what they were saying now.”
Except that it’s not really that way at all. Instead, it is just that we’ve fallen into it by the virtue of not being aware of not being aware. Instead we’re asleep with no agency, just repeating the past, ad nauseum.**
Bringing mindfulness to the situation (even years later) lets us interrupt that cycle and interject ourselves into the now of our it so that we regain our agency and choice. We allow ourselves to be informed by what came before without needing to become it. We get to think about things complexly, rope in our other experiences, and create.
By bringing our central selves to the fore, we can truly make it our own.
* I’m sure it goes without saying that we see cause and effect supremely often where no such relationship exists… yet we form our realities as though it is so.
** It’s important to get how insidiously powerful and prevalent this is, how much we become subsumed into that already always knowing to become the thing, that it, forever being perpetuated into the future. We don’t even get to have our own experiences. The experiences of others we’ve gleaned over the years are instantly our moment-by-moment experience of that it, shaping our behavior, actions, and experience going forward in a cycle.