Your Past Blunders were Created by Someone Else

September 7th, 2022 by Kelly Kienzle


Do you know the Buddhist principle of Every Breath?  This principle states that with every breath we take, we are a new person.  Every few seconds, we are re-shaped.

It is the magnified version of: “I’m not who I was 10 years ago.”   Most of us can agree with the 10 Years Ago principle – – we can see that who we are today makes different choices than what we chose 10 years ago.  We think differently now because we’ve had so many experiences in the last 10 years.

But what about the last 5 years?  Have you seen and experienced events that shaped you? Of course you have.  How about the last year?  How about the last month?  What about the last minute?  Yes, yes, and yes.  Being impacted in some way by life is inescapable.

[That last question was a bit egotistical on my part, as I know that part of your last minute was spent reading this article.  Though you may not have achieved enlightenment from the paragraphs above, you almost certainly had some thought about what you’re reading that shaped you in some tiny way, even if it was to think, “Ooh, I really want a muffin.”  Great, now you are a person who wants a muffin.]

So, back to the Every Breath idea.  Buddhism believes that with every breath, we are new.  We are impermanent because our brain is always taking in new information and we are always in the experience of life.

But, Kelly, this article was supposed to be about our past blunders – – where are you going with this?

I’m going here:  Because we are always a new person, with every breath, we are not our previous selves.  It was your previous self that created that blunder.  It was not present-you.

So, while we certainly need to examine why our previous self may have made that mistake and attempt to improve, we do not need to harass, beat down or shame our (present) selves for it.  Our present selves did not make that mistake.  We are blaming the wrong person.

And the “right” person to blame is long gone – – he or she left anywhere from one to 100,000 breaths ago.  That mistake was made by a version of you that no longer exists.  You are blaming a ghost.

That self didn’t know then what you know now.  That self didn’t understand then what you understand now.  Recognize that difference.  And then absolve your present self for the mistakes of your past self.  Your future self will thank you for it.

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