The first step in changing how you think about your past is actually facing your past. Taking a long and hard look at it. You can’t think differently about something or change your perspective on life events if you don’t first take a look at those events and how you are thinking about them.
How we think about our past is 100% within our control.
The past does not exist today. The only thing that does exist is how we think about our past and characterize those experiences.
I recently had a coaching session where I had an epiphany about my past. I came to the session frustrated because I felt like my past was “haunting” me. Like every time I tried to move forward, I would have a nightmare or be overwhelmed by a tidal wave of anxious thoughts and feelings.
I spent a decade of my life in a very challenging relationship. There are so many experiences that I had that I would not wish on anyone. From that experience, I have come to understand and appreciate the mental and physical implications of trauma both long- and short-term.
However, in that session I realized that when I thought of my past, my predominant thought was this:
I am so done with that part of my life; I don’t want to spend any energy thinking about it anymore; I am not that person any longer
On its face, this looks like a strong, worthy thought for me to be carrying around. The problem was that this thought created feelings of frustration about my past. It created tremendously strong resistance to any thoughts about my past or any consideration of past events. I just kept telling myself I am so done with all of that. I was always trying to pivot away from those thoughts. To close the blinds, so to speak.
However, when I am frustrated about my past, I tend to stew and fester on it. I beat myself up every time I think about it and get so frustrated that my past just wouldn’t leave me alone. I beat myself up for my past actions and ranted at my younger self.
How could you get yourself into that situation? How could you do that to your family? How did you get so lost? I don’t even know who you are.
On and on and on it goes. The truth is that my thought I am so done created actions in me that only proved that I was not, in fact, done with that part of my life. That thought was creating the exact opposite result because it was my mental attempt to wipe it clean. To resist my feelings and resist my thoughts about my past.
As I was finding, my resistance would only last so long and eventually my emotions would come flooding back and I would snap or melt down at the slightest trigger. I kept asking myself Why do I keep thinking about this junk? Why does this keep coming up!?
Anytime you find yourself resisting a feeling or pretending that you are past it, the only result that can come of it is that it will boomerang back to you much stronger.
These are all signs that you are resisting the emotions that are trying to work themselves out.
When we resist our feelings, we are only drawing them back to us in a stronger way.
In working with my coach, I realized that my thought I am so done with that part of my life was creating a never-ending cycle of suffering. Unless and until I actually sat down and looked at my past, I would never be able to shift my perspective.
You can’t just close off the ugly rooms in your house and pretend that they don’t exist. You have to enter the room; looks at its cracks and clear away the grime. That is the only way to start thinking differently about that space.
I always tell my clients that this work is never-ending and truly, that is the case. I am always humbled and blessed by the things my coaches uncover in our sessions. This work truly changes lives.
What are you waiting for?
Sign up for a free consultation today and get started re-thinking your past experiences.