Do we plan our lives?

BeachMy approach to metaphysics in a nutshell is this: if an idea intrigues me, I like to play with it as if it were true. I like to try the idea on for size, see how it feels, and put it through its paces.

Many people don’t go there unless something of a woo-woo nature has been scientifically proven to be true. They immediately shut down and refuse to even consider the idea, focusing instead on lack of proof. “The afterlife does not exist because it cannot be proven.”

What I do is not much different from when you are buying a house or searching for a new apartment. You go visit the place, and then you visualize yourself living there. You think of how your furniture would fit in the space. You think of how it would feel to wake up in this place each morning. You think of what opportunities await you in this locale along with what hazards may be present.

Not much different for me when I think of concepts like afterlife, reincarnation, out-of-body experiences, extra-terrestrials, and my latest one, pre-birth or between-incarnation life planning.


I encountered a couple of books written by Robert Schwartz: Your Soul’s Plan and Your Soul’s Gift. I also watched several interviews with Robert on YouTube.

I’d heard variations on this concept for years, particularly through the work of hypnotherapist and past-life regressionist Michel Newton. It was not an entirely new concept that we as souls plan life relationships and events based on what we want to learn in our future incarnations.

I think of it as recreation or mental adventuring to look at my life and consider this: if certain events were planned like exercises in a lifelong workshop I am taking, what was I supposed to learn? The answers can be surprising.


I was raging hormones in love with a girl  when I was a junior in high school. From the first time I laid eyes on her, I wanted her. She was smart, funny, and sexy. During our first few dates, she also taught me much about the art of sensual lovemaking, raising the bar on a world of experience that I, still a virgin, was just discovering.

One evening she invited me over for a chat. When I arrived, she said, “I don’t love you anymore.” We were done. That was it. The most helpless feeling I had encountered in my young love life swept through me. I had no clue what had happened to her love.

When my senior year of high school began, she was nowhere to be found. Several months later I learned that she had been at a home for unwed mothers. It turns out that she had apparently gotten pregnant while we were dating. It was biologically impossible for me to have been the father.

It is fascinating for me some half-century later to consider this event from a cosmic perspective. It means one thing if it was just a matter of happenstance. An oh, too bad, girl dumps boy. Just another episode of teen-age angst to chew on. She was the one that got away.

It means something else entirely if it was a planned gotcha. According to the premise that Robert Schwartz lays out in his books, the soul of which I am a part — which would commonly be referred to as “my soul” — got together with her soul before we were born. We planned this event for reasons that were very clear to us then and way under the radar to us once we incarnated.


I find it somewhat comforting to think of it as a planned event, hurtful as it had been. Why? It helps me channel energy in a more positive direction to think of it as a learning experience in Earth School than tough luck in young love. It gives some purpose to my pain, which is essentially to learn from it. I find it helpful to look for the gift in my perceived losses. Sometimes they turn into major wins, even if at first they had disaster written all over them.

So what did I learn from having my heart stomped on? Well, I did not see this at first. It was one of the early lessons of when one door slams on your nuts, another door will open. I had to be beaten up a few more times before I realized that life always had a funny way of delivering new situations (in this case lovers) after my personal disasters.

Getting whacked like that also made me much more sensitized to being hurt. In time I learned how to empathize with others in their personal disasters because I had known my own. Empathy for pain usually does not occur without first having suffered pain to know what it feels like.

As it turned out, the agony of this abandonment led me to expressing myself much more in writing. The creative muse frequently happens as one tries to dig out of a pit of suffering. At this point in my life, I was just beginning to connect with my writing ability, and having some great angst material to write about amped me up.

I had to do most of the healing from this episode by myself. I did not have much outside help. As a life experience, this one taught me how to take better care of myself emotionally, and I am thankful that I chose I positive route over something like revenge-consciousness.

Years later when the concept of karma came to my attention, I decided that maybe some of my current-life destiny was to learn about relationships. I don’t normally think of karma as a formula for punishment or even justice. Rather, I see it as creating opportunities for do-overs of past-life mistakes or lessons that our higher self wants to explore in a physical body. I think of my soul as the entity who makes pre-incarnation decisions about karma.

It is possible that in previous lives, “I” (actually an incarnation of my soul) was not the most wonderful of mates. Maybe “I” dumped and ran, breaking someone’s heart in the process. Over the years I would experience several other instances of what to me felt like being abandoned, and I wondered more than once why this seemed to be a trend. Chance or karmic design?


Shit happens. Do we plan it?

Of course we need to grasp who “we” refers to. Our current brains did not have previous lifetimes. The “we” as I see it is the soul portion of us that designs from its cosmic perspective what it wants to experience for growth.

Many people resist the idea that our loving higher selves would plan tragedies, cruelties, and disasters for us to endure for the sake of our spiritual growth. I would probably be included among them had it not been for a friend of mine who had a near-death experience when she was in her twenties.

During that experience, she went back to her pre-life planning session where she witnessed how her father agreed to be an abusive parent to her. It was part of the plan. When she returned to physical life, she was able to forgive him for the pain he had caused her. Of course, forgiving him was less about him than it was about her finding peace in her own mind. Forgiveness meant that she could let it go and stay in the now.

So ultimately my friend accepted that yes, “we” plan this shit.

And this is what Your Soul’s Plan and Your Soul’s Gift by Robert Schwartz are about, too. With copious input from spirits via mediums, Robert guides us through a menu of challenging life situations (rape, incest, a loved one’s suicide, abusive relationships, miscarriages and abortions, and so on) to show how those tough situations led to positive outcomes.

Planning a life with the possibility/probability of a few painful episodes to encounter has an interesting relationship, I think, with such beliefs as the law of attraction. Woven through the narrative of Your Soul’s Gift is plenty of material on climbing out of painful circumstances through consciousness techniques. That’s really what the book is about—healing.

So if our souls plan lessons for us that we as physical beings would see as sadistic, they also know that lifelines and healing support are available. Physical incarnation is a boot camp for learning spiritual lessons, and according to Schwartz’s research, we always agree to these events beforehand.


I do not know whether it’s true or not that our souls plan yucky stuff for us. In some ways it seems very Twilight Zonian, and in other ways it makes sense.

Either way, I find it most useful to ask myself if I planned this experience before I was born, why would I have done that? What did I learn from going through it? Just asking the question will yield fascinating and often healing insights that help me on my journey.


An impression I have is that if more people accepted the reality of the life plan — in other words, if it were somehow proven — we would have much more compassion for people’s woes. We would understand the cosmic dynamics of this system. We would be more willing to assist people if we got it that shit happens by design.