Are there parts of your life, your past, that still bother you and that you sense may be holding you back from achieving your goals?

If that describes you, come with me and we’ll look at a way of changing your thinking to be more useful.

Have you heard of kintsugi? Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver lacquer, highlighting the beauty and the history of the item instead of concealing it. It perceives breakage as a part of the history of the object and embraces the object’s imperfections. 

Kintsugi even made it in to the latest Star Wars movie as the bad guy Kylo Ren tried to embrace his past as faceless evil by reconstructing his mask using the same technique. How much better would your life be if you could apply some Kintsugi to your perception of events that still now affect how you feel day to day?

Kintsugi values the history of an item as adding value to it, rather than the Western approach of only valuing that which is new
Kintsugi values the history of an item as adding value to it, rather than the Western approach of only valuing that which is new

As with many customs, there is the reality and there is the myth. The origin of this particular custom comes from a 15th century, Japanese emperor who had a favourite tea cup that had somehow broken. Distraught, he sent it away to the craftsmen of the palace and they did as he wished and mended the cup. Only with ugly metal staples as was the procedure of the time. Angered by the ugliness of his once beautiful cup, he charged his servants to invent a new method that would both fix and beautify his treasure. Eventually they came upon the idea to weld the pieces back together with gold, making it nearly better than before. Whether the story is true or is simply a morality tale, the essence of it tells us a lot about the culture it came from, and a mindset that is universally useful in the modern world. Kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. Japanese culture actually values marks of wear by the use of an object, rather than the Western view of valuing new over old. For many people, incidents and events in their past have caused them issues in the present, and often this is more to do with their thinking about the events than the event itself.

Negative feelings about past experiences, left unresolved, will show up in your day to day reactions to events, causing stress and limiting your decision-making. And this is an area that I help many clients deal with.

How we usually react to situations is largely determined by our past conditioning, however, we can choose how we want to feel and how to respond differently than our past habitual tendencies. No matter what you experienced in your past, you have the ability to change your perceptions and beliefs regarding the past so that you can feel better about it right now.

Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome and famed Stoic, wrote “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears”. How much better would your life be if you could apply some Kintsugi to events that still, now affect how you feel day to day? There are many techniques out there that claim to act as kintsugi to your life history – mending the broken memories and experiences that cause you to face the future with fear and anxiety, but the most powerful one is that of Eye Movement Therapy, a special technique that rapidly re-programs not the memories but the way that you think about those memories. 

Think about someone that you have to deal with on a regular basis, who makes your gut turn when you see an email or a message from them? Well Eye Movement Therapy in just a session or two will take the sting out of those relationships such that they don’t affect your feeling of wellbeing, and you then have more flexibility in your decision-making. 

So I welcome you to find some time to make a list of the experiences, people and relationships that are still broken in your mind, and imagine what it would be like to apply some kintsugi to them. After all you can’t change what has happened to you, but you can change how you think and feel about those events such that they no longer hold you back. 

#kintsugi #stoicism #iemt