Yes, You Can Change the Past

Inside Out

Change the voices in your head make them like you instead — P!ink

We have all had it happen before. The scenario where we blissfully move along in life and then discover the world we knew so well was not true. Maybe it was the relationship that moved forward on a foundation of monogamous commitment that was shattered by the knowledge, and embarrassment, of years of infidelity. Maybe it was something smaller. Maybe it was something much worse.

Maybe it was even the opposite — perhaps years of wasted time knowing that you have been wronged only to find out it never actually happened. The Upside of Anger (2005) — spoiler ahead, the movie is over ten years old now — relates the story of Terry Wolfmeyer who told her daughters that she thought their father, Grey, had left the family to be with his former secretary in Sweden. It was not until years later that, when a real estate deal involving both Terry and her new boyfriend finally goes through, construction begins in the area surrounding their homes. A worker accidentally uncovers a well, where Grey Wolfmeyer’s body is found, revealing that he had never abandoned his family. Rather, he had accidentally fallen in the well and drowned.

If you are reading carefully, at this point you might be thinking great — if wonderful things are happening now the truth could crash the illusion at any moment whereas, if things are currently in a hot mess, perhaps I am dealing with just an illusion of what the truth is. The problem, however, comes down to not what the truth is but rather what the story is we tell ourselves.

There’s the flat tire and then there’s the story about the flat tire. — Tony Robbins

Though there may not be a choice about the flat tire, the story we tell ourselves, and others, is 100% under our control. The story is our a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting the past. It is a mental impression that is defined as our perception. In turn, I am sure the phrase, “perception is reality,” is familiar thus the idea of changing the past should not be looked on as a possibility to be dismissed as just a stupid trick of words.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. — Albert Einstein

If you do find yourself with a disempowering story holding you back I am not under the illusion that it is going to be easy to make the shift needed to change the past. With years of investment into an identity it is going to be harder to let go of than that stock you know will just, some day, eventually, maybe, perhaps, possibly, turn around and make all of the money you lost back. Though I do not have any data for this comment I will still say that the great majority of people will never even make the attempt — perhaps under the hallucination that their story actually is the truth and cannot be changed.

There is, however, some data at least remotely related to those that do. If you look at success, regardless of how you define it, it seems that 75% is the magic number that has arisen from challenged backgrounds. In other words, the story that is holding you back might actually be able to be rewritten into the story of why you can succeed where others have failed. Life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about how you handle what happens to you. Need some examples to put your story to shame? Just look at Sean Stephenson and Nick Vujicic. Both have taken lives that could have been easily written as tragic dramas and turned them into stories about superheroes instead.

Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever, ever feel
Like you are less than, less than fuckin’ perfect

Yet, for others to see your perfection the first, and only, challenge you have is to be you and not something you have let the things in your past become to you. Pause here. Time to re-read and think. Time to separate yourself from what you have let the things in your past become to you — in other words, your stories.

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. — Tom Robbins

The following is copied from “Advice to a younger self…” It is a piece of advice I heard in 1999 from Joseph McClendon III, Tony Robbins No.1 Performance Coach. It was a story he told aloud back then and in asking him just recently if it was written down anywhere his reply was, “Unfortunately I do not have that in written form. Most of the time it is of the cuff and I’m in the flow.” I wish I could remember his words exactly but it went something like this —

Imagine yourself going back in your past having the chance to see all of the moments that made up your life to where it is today. See the friends around you today and remember where you first met them — some you may have only known for a short time and others you may have shared most of your life with. Remember how you wound up living where you are and what that move was like. What are you most proud of now — your family? Your job? Maybe what you have learned over the years. How did you meet your spouse? Remember all of those good times you have had together. Remember the bad times too — how have they made your relationship stronger? How did you wind up driving the car you have now — what about the last accident you were in — I know you were in at least one. What are you most proud of? Go back further in time before your career. Remember your school friends. Remember the people who didn’t like you? Remember the subjects you liked and the ones you didn’t. Dating, your first kiss, your first boy friend or girl friend. How about your first car? What were you eating back then? — I bet it is different today. What was your neighborhood like? Remember all that free time you had. Go back before school. Can you remember what your home was like? Remember where you played. Visualize that world in your mind. Look around to those familiar places and find your favorite one. Do you see a child there? Pick that child up and hug it with all of the love you have inside until you are one with that soul. Then realize that child is you. Before you let go take the time to tell that young soul, “It’s going to be all right.” Then let go and remember how far you have come. Enjoy and be thankful for that moment. Your life is a gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God. Become the miracle you seek.

Yes, thinking about it now probably the best advice I could give to my younger self is, it is going to be all right. Divorce, death, and even high school, were all somehow meant to be on the trail leading to the here and now.

(Originally posted on Medium)