How to Rewrite Your Past
So you can decide your future ahead of time.
I’ve been thinking about my past a lot ever since my sister made a joke about how we used to live with rats when we were children. I lived in a rat infested house for three years.
They used to climb all over my clothes in the closet and shit on them. They would climb up the shower curtains when I’d take a shower. You couldn’t leave a bowl of chips on the couch alone for two minutes without a mouse getting in it.
What was interesting to me was my brother, sister and I all had the same experience, but our interpretation of the past is completely different.
They’re angry and bitter about it. They feel like victims and I don’t, yet we all lived through the same circumstance.
How to rewrite your past
When I say “rewrite the past,” I don’t mean we can alter circumstances that actually happened. I mean give a new meaning to what happened.
We all have pasts that we seem to find an issue with. Many of us have had upbringings that we find unideal or blame for our problems now. There are countless articles that talk about how much our parents have influenced our behaviors. Something happened in the past and now we are angry, regretful or resentful about it.
What I am suggesting is to change the story you have written about your past in a way that serves you.
Your past doesn’t exist anymore. It’s over. The only things that impact us from our past now are the present thoughts we have about it.
All you will ever have, know and experience is the moment you are living in right now; the moment you are reading these words that I have written. Life is just a bunch of consecutive moments of now.
But for many of us, we believe what happened in the past impacts us now. This is not true. You cannot be feeling any pain from the past. The thoughts you’re having right now are responsible for what is causing your pain. The pain that happened in your past is not happening now — there is no “old pain.”
What do I want to make my past mean?
I want to believe that everything that happened to me was absolutely necessary in order for me to become my greatest version.
The only truth you ever have to worry about is your own. I know that there are endless debates about subjective and objective truth, but let’s cut through the bullshit and get to the real point. The point is that this is your life and you get to determine what your own truth is. You get to create a story about yourself and your life in a way that serves you.
It doesn’t serve me to believe that I was a victim, but I used to think this. I used to be angry. I used to blame my parents for their neglect. I felt ignored in my childhood and I remember their absence a great deal of the time. I thought they didn’t care about me because they were off working while we stayed at home with rats.
This was the story I told myself and you can see how it generates anger. But another side to the story is that they were working really hard to do the best they could.
It’s always a choice on what you would rather focus on.
The past is a memory that we choose to give a distracting and unproductive amount of time, energy and attention to.
Now, the story that we have about our past normally gives us reason to act the way we do now.
Things have happened that we use as a reason or excuse to think, believe, behave and act in the way that we do in the world. It justifies our behavior.
Our behavior stems from our beliefs. A belief is really just a thought you keep thinking over and over again until it is something that becomes an ingrained thought process — a belief.
Your best course of action is to constantly be thinking things that serve you.
Everything stems from you. You are not at the whim of life or participating in the universe; you ARE the universe unfolding in every moment.
You are capable of creating a story for yourself and your life that inspires bold and positive action.
This model was created by Brooke Castillo. This model alone has helped me transform my life.
It looks like this:
C — [Fill in the blank]
T — [Fill in the blank]
F — [Fill in the blank]
A — [Fill in the blank]
R — [Fill in the blank]
C is a circumstance. This does NOT include your thoughts about it. This is a fact, plain and simple. The sky is blue. The grass is green. These are facts and facts are neutral.
T is your thought. What thoughts are you thinking about your past? Your emotions and actions stem from your thinking, so this is the most important line. What are you going to choose to think?
F is your feeling. What feelings are coming from the thoughts you are thinking? If you think and believe that you were a victim, you are going to feel ashamed, disempowered, angry, etc.
A is your action. Your emotions fuel your actions, so what actions are you deciding to take based on your emotions? Are these actions serving you or creating a life that you do not enjoy?
R is your result. All of your results come from your actions, so what results are you currently creating in your life and what results do you want to create in the future? Think something in the T line that will help you reach your desired result.
You should create two models for this. The first model is going to be what you have been thinking. The second model is what you want to think on purpose about your circumstance.
The circumstance must be the same in both models.
My Personal Example
Here is what I used to unconsciously think:
C — I lived in a rat infested house for three years in my adolescence.
T — My childhood was stolen, my parents were neglectful and my pain was ignored.
F — Angry, bitter, disempowered.
A — Mad at parents, mad at the world, acting like a victim.
R — Not taking responsibility for my life due to feelings of disempowerment.
Here is the past I have chosen to rewrite:
C — I lived in a rat infested house for three years in my adolescence.
T — My parents were trying their best and this prepared me to deal with difficult situations. It made me resilient.
F — Strong, determined, confident.
A — Putting in the work towards my goals and dreams.
R — Progress toward my goals and dreams.
We all have a story about our past, present and future. This story is something that we can write and rewrite as many times as we want. There is no rule and there is no right or wrong. It’s really just about what thoughts will help you reach the result you are looking for.
Decide your future ahead of time
Consciously choosing to get into a headspace that helps you reach a desired result is deciding ahead of time.
In the beginning, it is going to be easy to fall back into the same thought patterns because you’ve been thinking them for so long. But if you can train your brain to get into a place where it believes the new story you’ve told yourself, you’ve decided ahead of time. You’ve decided that despite the doubt and difficulty moving forward, you’re committed to your new story.
The way you rewrite your past helps inform your decisions about the future you’d like to be living.
The past happened then. Your thoughts are happening now. What do you want them to be?