Ok the title of this article is somewhat misleading…
Because of course you can’t change the past, even if you thought you wanted to.
You could say, if you want to change the past it’s a sign there’s unresolved treasure there, waiting for your insightful inquiry to reveal it. But that might sound kind of patronising.
The truth is of course, that the past is untouchable.
But your memory of the past…?? That’s entirely more malleable and contemporary!
Every time you remember the past, what you’re actually doing is holographically recreating the sensations and feelings in your memory.
It’s an act that occurs in the present, at the time of the recalling.
Put in another way…
When you think of things that have happened in your life, the memory is a facsimile of the events that you create in order to review your experience of those events.
And we can ask ourselves about the implication of our memories being current events…
But making this assumption brings it’s own predicament:
If our memories are taking place in the present then every time we remember something, we’re doing it on purpose.
To remember is an act of volition.
And so if you’re thinking about something unpleasant and pondering it’s effect on your current life… what you’re actually doing is consciously reliving the memory and manifesting it’s effect into your present moment.
Well the obvious solution is to choose your memories carefully. If they’re experiences you don’t want repeated… leave them in the deep well of your mind instead of drawing them up to the surface.
Ok but that’s not always so easy. When big stuff has gone down in your life it’s a shock and it sends shockwaves not just through your body but through time also, and you’re still impacted by the event and perhaps unable to dissolve it’s influence.
Some issues go round and round and we can’t seem to shake them off.
And here’s the game-changer:
You can’t change the past but your memories are contemporary creations and they’re subject to your Will.
So what if you can’t change the past, because you can change the way you think about it.
And of course the reality is we probably really don’t want to change the past at all, we just want to change how we feel about it. We want to be ok with it. And to be able to let it be.
Let me give you an example of how you can use this to soften the impact of the past and allow more of your energy to be seated here in the present.
The idea is you’re going to take a memory and the implied situation and change, modify, add or subtract something about the event to make more pleasing to you.
(You won’t at any time be deluding yourself about the reality of your experience, merely creating an avenue to a new way to feel about your experience).
Here’s an example from my own life and childhood:
“My father died when I was a year old and despite having learned to live without his physical presence, (I chat with him everyday on the inside), I still sought the presence of a male role model in my life. And I never found anyone to be much cop. My step dad was a bit effete, my friends’ dads were well meaning but a bit blundering, teachers were mainly hopeless although a few still carried their own light and saw mine in me. But growing up with 4 sisters and only distant uncles and cousins meant that position never got filled… Until I became older and began to seek intellectual role models from history, science and philosophy.
“But this didn’t stop me from being a pissed-off little kid inside; continually disappointed with those I felt should have held more strength within themselves. This feeling is characterised by the memory of waiting for my uncles to visit from overseas. I was on my bike and had gone as far down the road as I felt comfortable to wait for them. They got delayed and I ended up waiting for what seemed like ages. The disappointment I felt in that moment kinda sums up that bigger feeling. And it can affect me now in my attitudes towards family members, myself and people in general. “
If you can’t change the past, change your story of the past.
So eventually, when I got fed up of going over the past, recreating these feelings for myself, I decided to change the story.
I went for one change only; one simple thing added to the story that then changes everything else about the character of the story. I added the dog that I always wanted. And of course I love Calvin and Hobbes, so imagining this story as a cartoon, means that instead of the comic strip ending with me alone and disappointed… it now finishes with an, “Oh well. Nevermind!”, as my face gets licked by a bouncy, cuddly bundle of fun.
Now if ever I catch myself feeling that same feeling, for whatever reason, it gets instantly transformed when ‘Buddy’ comes bounding into the picture.
Yes it’s silly and cute. But now that other feeling, the unpleasant one is forgotten about! All that’s left is this new feeling that I chose for myself.
And now you too can realise, remembering is a choice! Now you have a way to expand your options. And perhaps now you’ll be more attentive to your present rememberings.
Whenever you catch yourself dwelling on the past, you can ask yourself a new question…
“What one thing about the memory can I change that shifts the way I feel about that memory?”
Allow yourself to explore the different ideas and feelings that arise until you’re satisfied, then let go of the whole thing.
Don’t get too hung up on your answers to this new question. It’s just another story. The important part, the nourishing part is, you’re now using your consciousness, choosing to be present and in the moment. And that’s where all the treasure lies. For this moment is sacred.
If there’s a memory you want let go of and you’d like to talk it over, contact Khalil here for an informal chat about instantly changing the past and resolving issues.
EDIT: Looking at the roots of words can be extremely insightful. For example, ‘to remember’…
‘Member’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘mamsam’, meaning ‘flesh’.
The ‘re-‘ particle means ‘again.
So to remember literally means to ‘re-flesh’ an experience.
And we know that, “If it’s in your mind, it’s in your body.”