• Ruth Parchment

"The Past is in front of us and the future is behind us"

In the West we are linguistically wired to see time on a continuum where the future is something that is in-front of us and the past is behind us. What if we there's a different way of thinking about the past and present?

The Aymara people or Aimara people from the Andes and Altiplano regions of South America have a different sense of the passage of time. Instead the past is in front of them and the future behind.


This alteration in language provides a powerful shift in perception. Instead of dwelling on what we cannot see, "the future" and it's vast hypothetical qualities. We can look at what we can see in the past. A shift that allows us insight and reflection. We can choose what we do with our past, but our future is something that is not revealed to us.

This shift contrasts with Western ways of thinking. Anthropologist, Marta Hardman writes that in the West "we pretend [that the past] is not there, yet we're lugging it with us as we go".Hardman who has studied the Aymara people for 50 years found key differences in how the Amymara people view the past. The past, was seen as something sacred which seemed to foster a sense community and respect for people's stories and where they have come from. As a therapist I see how much suffering we carry when we fixate on the future. Perhaps the future isn't everything and maybe the past isn't something to be afraid, suppressed or pushed away. Follow me on Instagram and facebook.


© 2020 by Ruth Parchment CBT Cambridge