Looking Back

Looking back can be a worthwhile practice, although how one looks back can make all of the difference. Sometimes we look back fondly at an event in our lives and glow from the warmth of the memories. We envision the beautiful success that led up to our happy thoughts and we can sit by the hearth of that memory for quite some time.

Other memories are not so pleasant, and we can find ourselves being pulled back into a difficult time and re-experiencing the shame or hurt or guilt of that moment, that seems like only yesterday, the images are so vivid and the emotions so strong. We feel the hurt once again, and sting with the trauma felt in our very soul.

Emotion tends to engrave certain events into our minds and psyche and when that emotion is triggered once again, we can be right back in the past. When the memories are pleasant, one would think this was a good thing--when they are negative, a bad thing. What they have in common is their ability to remove us from the present and have a past event dictate and control a moment in the present. There are many folks, in fact, that spend much of their lives in the past in either a past glory or a past shame.

There is a way to re-invent our lives and it begins by re-writing our past. The reason this is possible is because all creative acts begin in the imagination. The imagination is a powerhouse when it comes to any creative endeavor. Before you can do anything, you must first imagine it. This works with past events as well as future events.

Before you throw this baby out with the bathwater, I invite you to try it. This is best done in a type of meditative state, so first pick a time when you will have no distractions and find a quiet place where you can close your eyes, breathe deeply and go inside. Pick an event that plagues you with its memories and sit back and watch the usual tape unfurl. This time, instead of playing it through in its usual manner, stop it when things start to go wrong. You know where this is. It is the place where we often say, “if only”. If only they had acted differently. If only they had made a different choice. If only I had not…if only…

It is at this point where you invite your creative muse and imagination to write a different outcome. How would you like it to be? What would have been preferable? In a perfect world, how would things have turned out? You can apply this to any situation. How you were treated as a child by your parents, friends, etc. Changing a horrific event into a different outcome. Take whatever painful memory plagues you, re-write the story, and imagine how you would be different if that event had not happened.

This is where the exercise gets really interesting and where you might be really surprised. In my own experience I have found healing as I imagined being treated differently in a situation. I saw myself honored and seen and was blessed by honoring myself in my mind’s eye. When I asked how I would be different I could see that I would have a better sense of confidence and of who I was, but I also saw something interesting, and that is that I would not have a depth of understanding and compassion about some things that I now possess. In fact, when I weighed the differences in my character development, I could see that these difficulties had actually worked in my behalf and that I had grown because of them.

For me, this has been an exercise with a double benefit. I have glimpsed myself without having experienced some of the more difficult events in my life and I have glimpsed the gifts behind the wounding. In either case, I have been empowered to see myself as the author of my own story, for it is we who assign the meaning behind any event in our lives.

We decide how we are going to look at something and interpret whether it was a horrible thing or whether it helped to make us who we are. It is much easier to be a victim. But by owning authorship of the story and how we choose to tell it, we empower ourselves. I challenge you to write something beautiful in your life. Take whatever has happened and turn it into the story of hero. You are the author and you are the hero. Only you can write the kind of story you choose to live out.