Several years ago now, I attended a course about becoming aware of your own inner energies. The teacher, Ruth, is a healer and very psychic, and can see auras. Actually, during the course she taught us how to see an aura, and I was one of the lucky 50% who achieved it. But I digress.
Ruth explained that it is possible that in the past more people were aware of their own energies, at least subconsciously, and that this affected our language. Have you ever said "I was beside myself with rage"? Ruth said that an angry person's aura, or energy field, will often move to one side, so that they are literally 'beside themselves'. "She is above herself" is another one - a very haughty person may project their energies upwards, presumably to look down on the rest of us. "He is very down" - same thing, his energies have sagged.
My mother often uses the phrase "In my next life I'll be rich/a man/ like your Aunt Ray" or whatever is bugging her this time. But as far as I know she does not actively believe in reincarnation. And Mum is not the only person I have heard using this phrase, probably thinking they are joking. I say it myself, as I did this evening when I bit a profiterole and cream shot everywhere - "In my next life I'll be elegant", and the stranger I was chatting with laughed easily and we chatted on. But is it possible that we are telling more truth than we realise, and that at an unconscious level we are aware that we will get another go? I have a bit of a laugh at this idea in my second novel,'Revisited Sins', which I will put on the conveyor belt to publication once 'Despite the Angels' is out there.