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Monday, 29 December 2008

Changing the Past

One of the most common questions I receive from people who buy my book is "How do I change the past?"

Changing the past is one of the most life-changing ideas that I teach. For many people, the idea of changing the past is an idea they never thought of before. The belief that "you can't change the past" is so ingrained in their thinking that they've never investigated it. They just accept that the past is what it is, and that's that. Negative events simply are negative…. We can't change them.

Virtually everyone who has an "issue" of any kind can point to a number of incidents in the past that were "negative" and which played a major or minor part in creating their life as it is today.
It might be that the past situation triggered the formation of a belief; helped to destroy a prevously held belief; caused emotional pain; or created an emotional pattern that still exists today.

If you have any negative belief, like "I'm not good enough."; I don't deserve to get what I want."; "The world is a scary place."; "Life is a struggle."; "Finding a suitable partner is difficult."; "I can't trust people." or similar ideas, it is almost guaranteed that you will be able to point to a past event that "proves" the truth of this belief.

If you ask yourself a question like, "What was a really negative thing that happened to me?" it is likely that you will quickly recall an event where someone betrayed you; a relationship ended; you got fired from a job; someone rejected you; someone ridiculed you; something important was taken from you; or, a similar event.

These past events and situations have effects that linger into the present. Sometimes they can be associated with such negative feelings and emotions that we avoid thinking about these situations because we want to avoid the pain associated to them. If the event happened in our childhood, it's possible the impact of the event changed the direction in which our life was moving. I know someone who was pushed into a swimming pool as a child, and has never learned to swim. The event was so scary, he never overcame the impact of it.

However, when we think about what the past is…. we realize the past is not real. It is not physical. It is just an idea, and any idea can be changed. The trick is to understant what to change and how to easily change it.

For any past event or situation that seems to be causing you to feel bad, you need to understand that it is the MEANING that is the source of the bad feeling, not the event itself. If you change the meaning, the feeling automatically changes. And the meaning can be easily changed by changing the way you perceive it.

There are many ways to change how you perceive any past situation. Many therapists or coaches or seminar leaders have their own favorite techniques.
Here's what I suggest…

On page 193 of my book, " Mind, Time and Power!" is an exercise about changing your past. There is a series of questions on that page that you can ask yourself.

The trick is to become aware of exactly HOW you are remembering the past event and then change SOMETHING … ANYTHING…about the way you are remembering it.

One of the quickest ways I have discovered is to ask myself these questions…
  1. "What was I expecting just before this event happened?"
  2. "How was I feeling just before this event happened?"
  3. "If I had been expecting and feeling something else, how would the meaning and the feeling of this event change?"
  4. "What happened that I did not expect?"
  5. "If I had expected and planned for this unexpected thing, how much different might the outcome have been?"
I have found that answering these questions makes me aware that my thinking and my expectations just before the event were what really caused the event to be perceived as negative. As I become aware of these past feelings and expectations the meaning of the event changes. When the meaning changes, your feelings and emotions change too.

Changing a long-held meaning of a past event might take some time, because you need to learn to think of it differently. But with repetition, you can eventually see a different way of looking at it. And when you discover this… everything changes.

I am attaching a visualization exercise that I find very helpful to do in situations like this. Try listening to this exercise, and also do the exercises I described in the previous paragraph. I think if you do this… you will experience some great changes in the way your life is unfolding.

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