Last night I was re-watching a favorite movie of mine, Fandango, with a young Kevin Costner and Judd Nelson, and I was struck by a couple of things that reminded me of things from the past. I know I spoke a little bit about this in an earlier blog, but I wanted to go into a little bit more detail about changing your past.
The events of your life have happened, they don’t change. But because these events exist as memories, and memories are seen through the filter of your beliefs, if you CHANGE a belief, you CHANGE the memory itself! Here’s something you can use to find when this has happened specific to you: think about a time in your life where something happened, either traumatic or wonderful, where you thought initially that one person was responsible for it, but found out later that it was actually someone else. How did you FEEL when you thought it was the first person? How did your feelings change when you found out it was the other person? When you remember it now, does it feel differently because of your altered knowledge of who did it? Of course it does! (Unless both people involved were basically meaningless to you). Why is that? When it was something wonderful and you first thought it was your best friend or partner that did it, did you feel excited? And when you found out it was your mother-in-law, do you remember it as LESS exciting now? See how that works?
So in the movie Fandango, which is a sweet little story of 5 friends during the Vietnam War era going on a last fling at the end of college before they all go off into their varied lives, there is a sort of “Stone Soup” wedding scene, where these 5 broke guys, basically bring a whole town together to create a wonderful wedding out of nothing. At the start of the scene, when the bride-to-be arrives, and the groom, Waggoner, arrives and sees her, he runs to her and they do that hugging, spinny thing where he twirls her around in the air. All my life I wanted to do that with a woman! And I remember with incredible joy and wonder and gratitude at the moment in my life when I DID get to do that! So why is it that I choose to remember THAT moment from that relationship, instead of, say, the moment when that same person broke up with me? Your memories don’t just happen to you! You choose them for a reason, and you can change that AT ANY TIME! More on this later.
The other thing from this movie final scene was that some of the townspeople had decorated all the trees in the square with white tree lights, something that holds a special place in my heart. And these tree lights are how I see the strand of the moments that make up my life. That’s my analogy for my journey. What’s yours? Do you see a roller coaster ride? One black pit after another with moments of joy when you climbed out and basked in the light, only to fall back again? (This, by the way, was how I, in fact, saw my life until about 5 years ago). Why do we all have different analogies for how we see our past? It’s simple. Because each of us is different, and have different beliefs. But what’s totally awesome about that, is that beliefs are changeable! And because of that, so is your past! I went from seeing a string of black pits interspersed with momentary light to a string of white tree lights. Do you think there’s any way I can remember the past the same after that type of change? You can do it to! I’ll show you how…
Think of some relationship from the past that you still regret losing, whether this person was a dream for you and they broke up with you, or someone you broke up with who you now wish you hadn’t. Now follow time forward. What did you take away as a learning from this relationship? How did you use that going forward? Think of something GREAT that happened in your life as a direct consequence of this relationship ending. (It may take you some time, but you WILL find something!) Once you do, really focus on that great moment. How does it feel to think about that? Really enjoy the memory! Now remember that it happened BECAUSE of the ending. Start practicing doing this with all of the things you regret from your past and you will start to see a pattern develop. The things you thought you regretted always lead to something wonderful in the future. And if there is some regret that you DON’T see something wonderful for since then? Ooooooo, this is the BEST part!!! It means it’s still ahead of you! So be on the lookout for it! How does it feel to think of it that way? I don’t know about you, but it feels REALLY EXCITING for me when I think that way! The other thing to do as part of this activity is to think of at least one (but as many as you want!) moment from that past relationship that was truly amazing, truly wonderful! Something that happened for the first or only time in your life, or something that you always wanted but had never gotten up til that point (like me with the “twirly hug”). Now take a moment to just really focus on how that felt—feel the joy of the moment and feel your gratitude now for the fact that it DID happen! After doing these two fun little exercises, now think back on the whole relationship. How do you feel about it now? Has your memory of it changed after looking for the gifts?
When you start practicing these tools, I GUARANTEE you will change your past! You will teach yourself to see the gifts and, lo and behold, your regrets will start to fade! (Or, as they did with me, they will all go away in a flash!) Just remember this is probably new to you, so just keep practicing. As with anything new, the more you do it, the more it will come easily, even become a “habit”. (For more on why changing beliefs alters your life experience, click here: http://www.option.org/the-option-institute/what-we-teach/37 ).
Stay tuned for my next post, since I will actually do this exercise for my own life, showing something from each past relationship of mine that I COULD regret if I wanted to and what I instead DO remember from it, along with a GREAT thing that it led directly to.
We would love to hear from you after doing this exercise to see how it felt for you!