So when you think about your past, are there things you don’t like about it? Are there maybe some good parts that you have forgotten or ignored? Let me show you how you can change your past….or at least how you think about it!
When I begin working with my clients I ask them to name 10 things that have happened in their life. I ask them to do this because it gives me an idea of what they are focused on. Sometimes they give me a list of big moments, sometimes its chronological, sometimes its all positive, sometimes it all negative. Sometimes its a mix. Sometimes its just the facts and sometimes there’s a lot of feelings involved. But its really about HOW they see their life. It’s HOW they THINK about their life.
If I were to ask you about your past, you’ll tell me a story. You’ll tell me about how YOU think about your past. But what most people don’t really understand is that because its in the past the ONLY thing that effects you today is how you THINK about it. The only place the past exists is in your mind. It’s a story. Sure, there may be some facts mixed in there, but most of it is just a story you tell yourself and others. And guess what….because of that, you can change it!
I know, I know…you are thinking that I’m totally nuts. You can’t change your past. The past is the past and there is no changing it. And that is where you are wrong! You can absolutely change it. You may not be able to change the facts, but you can absolutely change how you think about it. How do you do that? You tell a different story.
So let me give you an example –
Growing up, I had a great childhood. I was the oldest child with two loving parents. I lived in an amazing neighborhood where everyone looked out for each other and I had tons of friends. I grew up 10 minutes away from both sets of grandparents and was constantly surrounded by aunt, uncles, and cousins. When I was 14, my dad got a new job and I was ripped away from everything that I knew and moved across the country to the East Coast. We no longer had friends and family around. I had grown up in the Mormon bubble of Utah and was horrified by the outside world. I struggled to make friends because very few had the same standards as I did. It was an awful experience. I could not wait to get back to Utah and back to my comfort zone.
Ok – that is version one. And everything in it is true. But here is the same thing, told differently….
Growing up, I had a great childhood. I was the oldest child with two loving parents. We lived in a very close knit neighborhood where everyone looked out for each other and I had a lot of friends. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all lived close and I loved being around them all the time. When I was 14, my dad got a new job and we were going to move across the country. I was so excited for this new opportunity. I love change and I couldn’t wait to experience something knew. But while I was excited for the experience, it definitely wasn’t easy. I struggled making friends because most had different beliefs and standards that I did. But I found that it really made me figure out who I was and cemented my testimony in the gospel. But living back east gave me some new experiences that I never would have had in Utah. I was surrounded by history with Washington DC, Gettysburg, and Philadelphia just hours away. We had tons of visitors and we loved showing them all the sites. When my dad got relocated back to Utah, I was really happy to get back to being around lots of family, because I had missed that. But I was really grateful for the experiences that I had had and how it had made me grow.
Do you see the difference? Both stories are completely true. But in the first one I focused on the negative. I did struggle. But as I stated in the second one, it really made me who I am today. It’s all about how you look at it.
So when you think about your past, are there things you don’t like about it? Are there maybe some good parts that you have forgotten or ignored? Choose to remember and focus on them. And when you do, you change your past.
Now, I know there are things, horrible things, that have happened in some people’s past and you’re saying “well thats not just something I can focus on the positive and get over.” and I totally agree with you. But it is still a perception of how you look at it and what you decide to focus on after. Now, I am not dismissing things like PTSD, those are completely real and need to be dealt with by a professional, but even things that were traumatic can be helped with thought work. For example –
There is a woman I know who was assaulted by a stranger in her home at night when her husband was away. This was obviously traumatizing. Now, she could have continued to focus on it and the trauma and the victimization she endured. She could holed up in her house and not talked to anyone and lived in fear that it might happen again the rest of her life. But instead, she chose to say “this is what happened to me, I’m not sure why, but it did, but it does NOT define me and I will not let it stop me from living my life and blessing other people.”
You have to LET GO of the things you can’t control (and you can’t control the past) and ACCEPT the past for what it is but move FORWARD with love and peace for yourself and others so that you can be happy. I understand that accepting some things in your past is hard. But what other choice is there? Really? You can’t change the facts, so acceptance and changing the way you think about it is the only way to move forward. And if you need some help doing that, let me know!