“Forget the past, and focus on the future.”
I often hear this phrase and it’s seems like a nice inspiring hallmark card but, is it true?
I had a very tinted past that when I heard this phrase it seemed like everything I needed. I definitely wanted to forget the fact I had lost my dad, had been in jail( My time in jail pt 1) , in toxic relationships, in a battle to stay in the country that lasted about 8 years. Or that I had struggled with depression ( My story with depression and suicide ). I would have taken that in a heartbeat. However, now that I look back into how I began my healing process from all those traumatic experiences and how I am standing here today, forgetting my past was not how I got here. It is actually the opposite of that. I had to revisit my past in order to create a better future. So, can we really change our past? Why would we want to? And, how can we do it?
Our memories of our past are what create a sense of who we are. All the soccer games, the recital, the relationships. They are what makes us unique and ultimately us. The thing though is that even though we think our memories are one hundred percent accurate and that’s why we feel like our memories tell us who we have become, they are not.
Neuroscientist, Elizabeth Phelps, says that fifty percent of a memory changes in a year, our memories shift over time. It is proven that our memories can also be altered by outside factors like bias or new information. The truth is that our memories are kept by different parts of our brain. Then, when it tries to put the memory back together the details that have changed or have been forgotten, are filled in by our existing bias and beliefs. Let that sink in. If we fill in enough memories with negative beliefs, we can soon enough feel like our life has been a black whole.
So why does this matter if we are leaving our past in the past? Well, because it has so much to do with our future. Donna Rose Addis, a neuroscientist, along with other scientist decided to create an experiment. They placed people into a brain scanner and asked them about their past. Certain networks of neurons lit up. Then they were asked to imagine a future experience. The network of neurons that lit up were almost identical to the ones of their past! The thing is that the same parts of the brain that bring all the pieces together to relive or remember a memory can put together those pieces along with other pieces to make up possible futures. So, our past affects the way see our future.
So, how do we change our past?
Memories are better remembered by the emotion, story, and place. So you are more likely to remember events that are emotional or with a strong narratives. Think about that, our emotion and narrative to an event can make a memory not only more memorable but it can result in what we see for our future. If my narrative about my all my childhood is that I was unhappy and I felt alone, guess what I will see for my future? That exactly, yikes.
The amazing thing about our brains though is that we can change the connection in our brain. We have the power to change how we feel about a memory and the story we tell our selves about it. How amazing is that?! Now, we can’t really change the past, but we can definitely change how we see it and how we feel about it.
These are the 6 things I did that helped me mend my past to create a better future.
Some times we allow one event to contaminate the way we see a whole chunk of our lives, I had for a long time. I allowed the death of my father and the toxic relationship I had with a boyfriend to tint the two years I lived in Mexico. However, when I began to see those two years as a whole not just those two very traumatic experiences, I was able to understand that in my time there I learned and grew so much. I was able to have a more positive feeling about my time there.
2.See the positive
Allowing myself to remember the positive of my memories has helped me drain the negative thoughts of my bad experiences. Now, I know this is not easy to do. It takes practice and continuously looking for positives. For example my time in Mexico instead of continuously remembering the toxic relationship I began to remember the fact that I danced, I rapped, I was on the radio! All those memories now excite me. So now my time in Mexico is not drained by my traumatic experiences.
Every experience has a silver lining. You can always get something positive out of a situation even if what you get out of it is just lessons. Lessons are also a gain. Once we learn that and we start to look at our darkest moments with that lens you can start to see the light in those dark moments. For example, my time behind bars was definitely something I thought was not fair and I felt taken advantage of. Once I started to see that this event led to my order of deportation but that ultimately this led to me creating a case to legalize my status in this country, I look at that event with more gratitude. Because even though it was difficult and those 8 years I spent fighting were extremely difficult, it led to bigger and better things.
In order to move on you have to forgive. Yes I know this is extremely difficult. It’s easier said than done but forgiving will allow you to let go.
1. Forgive the person or the situation
Forgiving who ever hurt you will not only bring you peace, but it will also allow you to let go of the negative thoughts, emotions, associated with them. When we forgive we allow all the energy to free up from negativity. I have said this before but what we give our energy we manifest. When we live in anger and pain, we think of anger and pain, we then create an energy of anger and pain. So guess what you create, anger and pain.
2. Forgive yourself
Now this took me a long time to understand or to even realize that I had to do. We can sometimes beat ourselves up for our mistakes. Whether we say, “ I shouldn’t of been there” “ I shouldn’t have believed that person” “ I shouldn’t have this or that” When we spend our time and energy on blaming ourselves we tend to attract negativity more. Subconsciously we think we are to blame. So we fill in gaps with negative beliefs about ourselves. Let go! Find the silver lining, look at the bigger picture and use your energy to create the amazing things you deserve.
While we are working on our past we must begin to look for a better future. I think visualization is like a workout for our brain. The more I visualized the more I got excited for the future and the more I realized that holding on to the negativity of my past didn’t serve me for the amazing future I wanted. It might seem hard to do this at first but do it anyway. Practice, practice, practice.
Changing how you see your past is not something you wake up one day and change. It will take time. It will take a lot of inner work, a lot of healing but it is possible! The human brain is beyond extraordinary and you have the capability to change what your brain perceives, what it accepts as true.
Remember, you can do this!
Written by: Lupita G.