Why is it that I can remember certain things that I did many many years ago, but I can’t remember what I did yesterday?
An old friend of mine drops in to catch up and reminds me of things we did when we were younger, but I have a completely different memory of the event all together, or worse, no memory at all of the event. This happens at family gatherings too. Each member of the family remembers the same event differently or not at all.
What is happening? Are we getting old? Losing our memory? Or is this an opportunity to create a new reality?
Psychology tells us that how we remember our past defines us, our health, level of happiness and ability to respond to succeed. The events create memories, and how we replay them in our minds either empowers us or disempowers us to change.
Let’s face it, we all know people who have gone through something and one person comes out traumatized while the other seems to grow from the experience, becoming transformed for the better. We might ask ourselves, “how do I take something that seems bad and turn it into the best thing that ever happened to me?”
The answer lies in remembering the future.
Let me explain: As a therapist, I will work with my clients when they revisit their past experience to restore (re-story) it in a way that has a happy ending. It’s not what happens to us that defines us, it’s how we tell the story of what happens to us that creates our lives. You have a choice, will you be bitter or better from what happened. You get to choose.
Now this isn’t an easy thing to do. Like getting into shape, you have to exercise if you want something to change. So here is a practice I give to my clients:
Step I. Past – Present
Call up the challenge or difficulty that was in your past. It might be a regret, fear or injury (something that happened that you had no control over). Now ask yourself:
- How is this shaping your present?
- What is the story you tell yourself, the world, others?
- How is this story creating a belief (real or not) that is now limiting you?
- How is this belief disempowering you in your life, relationships, finances, career, health, choices etc?
Step II. Future – Past
Now choose a future that has a happy ending that is IDEAL for you. See it and hear yourself speaking/thinking, feel what it’s like to be in a body that has overcome the challenge with the best outcome possible.
Step III. Present
Rest in knowing that your Future Self has created this challenge/pain/difficulty so you can practice and build skills to become your best self. Trust that your future self is waking up your potential and everything that is happening now will bring you closer to a better version of YOU.
Most of the time we default our thoughts to dis-empowering stories and beliefs. These beliefs are creating congestion, aches, pains and disconnection. In order to shift our reality, we need to shift our stories to empowering memories. Einstein said, “imagination is more important than
knowledge.” Therefore, it’s not our memories that determine our lives, it’s the story we tell ourselves about the past and whether we remember them as gifts or burdens.
So next time a friend, family member or even when your inner voice tells you a story of your past, ask yourself, “does this story empower me or disempower me?” Make the choice to re-story so you can re-member the gifts to bring you the best.