I Have Moved On
Updated: Nov 25, 2022
Since my adolescence, I’ve paid close attention to quotes used in rap songs. Before the Internet was largely available to the public, I received information about other cultures, societies, and historical events from lyricists.
It wasn’t only conscious rappers who valued the “each one teach one” mantra, as even the gritty wordsmiths of yesteryear laced music with thought-provoking topics. This tradition reached greater levels once the World Wide Web went online.
In 2000, Freddie Foxxx, also known as Bumpy Knuckles, released Industry Shakedown—an album that critiqued shortcomings within hip hop. Twenty-two years later, it would seem as though the lessons he delivered were largely ignored. Yet, I digress.
Track eighteen of the album featured the “world famous” Mash Out Posse, or M.O.P—a rap duo known for rouged lyrics, unique instrumentals, and a hard core image—in a song entitled “The Mastas.”
While the song may not be to the taste of those who prefer mumble rap, hip pop, or trap, I’ve appreciated its chorus for over two decades. In my opinion, one of the standout features of the track is an excerpt of a quote that states:
“I am not now what I was yesterday, and I am not now what I shall be tomorrow. So you do yourself an injustice to judge me by yesterday when I have moved on.”
I can’t find the source of the quote, though one site claims it’s from someone named Corey Lyles. To me, the voice sounds like a young Louis Farrakhan—who maintains notable quotes within rap lyrics of the time.
Regardless of whose voice it is, or who originated the quote, I find value in its meaning. Thinking about the years of my life and various stages through which I’ve passed, I can’t fully relate to past versions of myself.
For instance, I find it amusing to think that I was once a cyclist, runner, DJ, raver, graffiti enthusiast, and competition shooter. Likewise, it’s hard to imagine how fascinated I was with body sculpting, photography, drawing, and interrogation.
I am not now what I was yesterday.
Equally, I have no idea what tomorrow may hold. Today, I help people make significant changes in their lives. Still, many clients with whom I’ve worked have likely heard me say that their success is their own, as I simply help guide them.
In the same way, I’m shaped by past and present individuals, organizations, and experiences. At present, I’m a psychotherapist, counselor, social worker, and life coach. Yet, I think of the words introduced to me by my former stepmom, “This, too, shall pass.”
I don’t know what tomorrow will hold. If today I don’t represent an image of yesterday—relatively speaking, who will I be tomorrow?
I am not now what I shall be tomorrow.
When working with people in relation to guilt and shame, I find that oftentimes they mentally and emotionally grapple with past versions of themselves. Not uncommonly, these self-perceptions serve as unhelpful belief systems.
For instance, Philbert may think, “I used to be the smartest in my class, and now I don’t understand my child’s homework assignment.” Wilhelmina may say to herself, “I once was a champion athlete, and now I get winded walking up stairs.”
Thoughts such as these aren’t necessarily bad, unhelpful, or unhealthy. They may even be true. Rather, it’s when we add rigid or extreme narratives to the statements that the context changes quite a bit.
Philbert may suggest, “I used to be the smartest in my class, and now I don’t understand my child’s homework assignment. I should know this!” Wilhelmina may think, “I once was a champion athlete, and now I get winded walking up stairs. I ought to be fit.”
In client sessions, I assist people with listening for should, must, or ought statements. These may or may not be unhelpful when applied to ourselves. It all depends on how the narratives impact us.
I can say that I should get out of bed when my alarm sounds, I must never punch a dolphin in the face, and—in the voice of Karl Childers—I ought not to talk like that, when telling others how awful I think hip pop is.
Setting expectations for oneself, depending on how well the demands serve a person, may help many people. For instance, if I don’t get up when my alarm goes off I may be late for an appointment. Therefore, I should get up.
Things become more difficult when people place demands on others or the world at large. For more information about how little control we actually have over anyone other than ourselves, I invite you to read my blog entry entitled Circle of Control.
In my blog, I usually focus on rigid demands people place on others. For the current entry, I want to focus on how we’re capable of disturbing ourselves with rigid demands and extreme views we may hold about ourselves.
Philbert could say, “I used to be the smartest in my class, and now I don’t understand my child’s homework assignment. I should know this! Because I don’t, I’m a fuckin’ idiot who’ll never succeed!”
Wilhelmina could think, “I once was a champion athlete, and now I get winded walking up stairs. I ought to be fit. Because I’m not, I’ll be a fat piece of shit who no one will ever love!”
It’s one thing to admit a past level of performance, though it’s another matter to place a rigid demand upon ourselves. Nonetheless, it’s a separate issue altogether to make extreme declarations with which we self-disturb.
I use Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) to help clients challenge unhelpful and unhealthy beliefs such as those used by Philbert and Wilhelmina. This stoic practice assists client with understanding the Epictetian notion, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
When we use rigid demands with extreme consequences, the judgment we employ may not serve us well. Philbert may have been a proficient student and Wilhelmina was a competitive performer, though that was then and not now.
If there’s something either of these people would like to do in order to achieve a desired outcome, they may do so presently. For instance, a SMART goal may be useful today for success tomorrow.
This is arguably a more helpful use of time than condemning oneself in the present for no longer reflecting a past image. After all, who among us appears as we did in 2000, when Industry Shakedown was released?
So you do yourself an injustice to judge me by yesterday when I have moved on.
By challenging guilt and through use of shame-attacking exercises, we may experience life in a more fulfilling way than through use of unhelpful judgment. This speaks to the unconditional self-acceptance concept in REBT.
Philbert, Wilhelmina, and even you can become “The Mastas” of your own future!
As a psychotherapist, and hip hop head from the old school, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
If my approach to REBT sounds like something in which you may be interested, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
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