There are many who if, if they could, would travel back in time and try to change something about the way their lives unfolded. In today’s note, I am not claiming you can physically travel back in time to change your life, but there is something that is just as good. You can change the way you remember and indeed perceive your past. I am not recommending you invent new facts about your history, but instead, you can reinterpret what those events meant.
Try to remember the way you perceived the world as a child or as a teenager. Surely your understanding of life and the meaning you give events now is much different than in those younger years. As a child, you may have perceived certain actions from your parents or other adults around you as having a particular meaning. This probably led you to develop beliefs and strategies to deal with your fears and anxieties or how to get what you want. You can recall events, but you also remember the meaning you associated with those events as if they were real. Can you see “my parents didn’t really love me” or “I was never good enough”? No, that was the meaning you attached to how you perceived events as they unfolded.
If you relived past events now for the first time with your current experience and understanding of life, the meaning you give to such events would be much different. You might recognise that your parents were struggling with their own issues and didn’t intentionally lose their temper or ignore you. You might realise that a teacher saw your potential and pushed you harder than the other students thinking it was in your best interest. If you look back just ten years and review events and the people in your life with compassion instead of judgement, you will start to see the past differently.
With this understanding, you can now review past events and see if your recollection of them changes. Try to have empathy for those who played a role in past events, especially your younger self. For emotionally charged life events or traumas, a qualified therapist is essential but make sure you work with someone who does not judge the people you describe. When you review past events and either take away the meaning you once gave them or give them new meaning, you can change the story of your life. The way I now see my parents, my ex-wife, and my younger self has all changed for the better, allowing me to live a happier and well-adjusted life. This is what I mean by changing your past.