Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Are You An "Old Soul?"

Have you ever heard the term “old soul” in reference to someone who appears to be wise? This term is used frequently. Why do some people appear to be older souls than others?

Is it really that some of us have had many more previous lives than others, or is that we have integrated our life experience and have gained strength as a result?

As I observe people, I notice that some of us choose to become powerful as a result of our experience, while others of us choose to hold onto our “pitiful me” story and play victim.

An old soul may be someone who has dealt with their experience, faced it, and integrated it. When we do this we become powerful as a result.

In contrast a younger soul may be someone who has never let go of their fear, anger, and grief. Their victim story has become their identity. They let their fear control their life. They may even be negative to be around because they project their fear onto others.

How we act as a result of our experiences determines how we are as people. Some of us use our experiences to become stronger. We become powerful and live productive lives. Some of us get stuck and feel helpless to change our life.

Many seemingly “young” souls do gain an “old” soul perspective after reaching a breakthrough point. I can think of several who have become spiritual teachers, and who today appear to be old souls, who reached a breakthrough point to become who they are today.

Neale Donald Walsch is one example. He was a homeless person before he wrote the extraordinary series of books Conversations with God, which taught millions about consciousness. Was he viewed as an old soul before he became a spiritual teacher? Probably not. Would he be referred to as an old soul after writing the books? I know I see him that way, especially after watching the movie Conversations with God (which is available on DVD).

Eckhart Tolle described his experience of feeling suicidal in The Power of Now. He thought to himself, “I can’t live with myself any longer,” then he realized that “I” and “myself” were different, which was a the doorway to realizing present moment awareness. Today many would view Eckhart as an old soul.

For most of us there’s a breathrough point at which we become what we generally think of as an older soul. In other words, it may be that how we respond to our experiences determines whether we are an older or younger soul, not how many times we may or may not have reincarnated, if in fact reincarnation is how our growth occurs.

It’s when people bring presence to their experiences, allowing themselves to feel their pain and integrate it, that they become the kind of centered and calm person who appears more wise.

In other words being an old soul may not have anything to do with how many previous lives we have had. Being an old soul may be a question of how we handle our experiences—whether we show up in our life, or whether we decide to play victim.

If you’d like to go deeper into this, I recommend Dr David Schnarch’s book Passionate Marriage. It’s not just for those in relationships. It’s all about how we truly grow ourselves up into “old souls.”

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