by Joeel A. Rivera, M.Ed.
Déjà vu: from French, literally “already seen,” is the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has been experienced in the past, whether it has actually happened or not.—Wikipedia
Have you ever felt like you where reliving an experience? It can be something that happened a week ago, a year ago, or 10 years ago, but it feels like you are watching a rerun. This can be a conversation, a relationship, a career change, a situation with a family member, and the list can go on and on. If you experience this phenomenon on a routine bases, at least you are aware of your life experiences enough to notice! However, it may also signify that you have certain patterns that are creating the same situations in your life over and over again. If they are positive experiences, that’s great. If they are negative, then you may want to reflect on how to change them and rewrite your story.
So, where do we find the seeds of experiences that we have planted in our own minds, those ideas and beliefs that have grown to the point that they are impacting our mind and reflecting in our reality? You see, the mind is a natural story teller by design. Throughout recorded history, people have created stories to share experiences, remember events, and educate others, among many other things.
What most people are not aware of is the fact that our mind is constantly creating a story or reliving one from our past.
Interestingly, the mind does not know the difference between what happened three days ago or 10 years ago. Therefore, when we are daydreaming or remembering a traumatic event, an argument, a conversation, or something hurtful from the past, our mind is reliving it in the NOW. It is almost as if we are having the same experience happen to us again and again and again. We sometimes call it déjà vu.
During this process, the body may react the same way as it did when we actually had the experience, releasing the chemicals that stir up the same emotions (positive or negative) and the same physical sensations (such as muscle tension). When we become aware that this process is happening in the mind, we can begin to identify negative patterns and take measures to repair and replace them.
The more times that we relive an experience in memory, the stronger the association our mind makes to what our reality “is” or “should be.”
The mind then will look for ways to create experiences that reinforce that belief system and/or story. For example, if Jane had big blow outs in her previous relationships that resulted in screaming matches, her mind will associate relationships with that pattern of behavior. If she does not heal and change that negative pattern, when she starts looking for another relationship her mind first will assess if a new romantic prospect meets the profile of someone who will give her the same experience. Remember that communication is approximately 80 percent nonverbal, so when we meet someone our mind immediately starts evaluating others’ nonverbal queues to see if they match our reality. Moreover, when she is in the relationship, if there is any disagreement, her mind automatically will trigger what it feels is the appropriate reaction, which is screaming and attempting to push the person to react in the same way; it’s an attempt to recreate the mind’s story. So what can Jane or anyone else do to change this pattern?
Catch Your Mind Having Its Own Conversation
One of the first things that you can do to change negative patterns is to catch yourself when you are having a conversation with your own mind! For example, some people leave a heated discussion and find themselves continuing that dialogue in their head even though it’s not happening anymore. When you find yourself in this situation, evaluate what your mind is saying. Is this truly a current reality? Is it exaggerating the situation or perpetuating it? Also be prepared to tell it to “SHUT UP!”
This may take practice, but if you keep catching yourself and shifting out of the negative internal conversation, you will start changing your pattern and what your mind thinks is an appropriate conversation. Then you can meditate or even chose a new topic of conversation.
Consciously interrupt the brain and bring new, uplifting ideas into your consciousness.
The more you interrupt the brain and its patterns of dialogue, the more it will automatically rewire itself to what you truly desire.
Here are two more tips to help you shelf your old, outdated stories:
Do you catch yourself daydreaming? When you start daydreaming, you risk losing yourself in the voyage. If you notice this happening, try to bring yourself back into the NOW. Pay attention to the details around you. Another good exercise is to work at remembering as many details of your day as possible and then to share them with someone or journal at the end of the day. When you do this, you are telling your mind that it needs to be aware of the NOW because it will need to recall the information later.
Ask yourself, “What story am I creating?” When you do catch yourself daydreaming or having a conversation with yourself, take a look at the tale you are telling. What is the theme of the story? Where is this story coming from? How is this narrative serving you or impacting your life? Once you understand your story, think of a better story that you would like to create. Remember, there’s always room for improvement! Because the brain is a natural story teller, it needs a story. So when you take away the old you must create something new to replace it. Don’t leave it to chance!
Once you know your new story, take the time to visualize this “reality” and look for things in your surroundings that will reinforce it. This can be as simple as being around people who have great relationships to watching positive television shows to reading articles that reinforce your story. The more you reinforce and infuse this process with new information, the more your mind will look to create this new story. Before your know it, the old story will be nothing more than an old book that is out of print.
Joeel A Rivera, M.Ed., is a visionary, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. From an early age, Joeel faced adversity, including immigrating to the United States, failing his freshman year of college, losing his brother, and being in a nearly fatal car accident. These experiences inspired him to return to college, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Education and is currently completing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Psychology, with an emphasis on happiness. Joeel opened a non-profit teen center in honor of his brother and developed curriculums for the Juvenile Justice System. In almost a decade, Joeel has reached over ten thousand people as an educator, entrepreneur, speaker, and consultant. Visit www.joeelandnatalie.com.