I’ve met a lot of people who were repulsed by self-analysis of any kind and generally disliked looking back or rehashing the past as they would say.
Past is the past, it happened, we can’t change it, why bother…
Well, there is a big reason to look at the past. In looking back, we get to re-examine if what we think happened is really what happened. Sometimes merely looking back from the perspective of an adult, we can have a refreshing view on something that our parents did, for example. I remember when I did my first Landmark Forum in 2005, the leader asked those of us whose parents were under 24 when we were born to stand up. So we did. Even in merely admitting how young my parents were when I was born, I stopped holding so much resentment towards some of the choices they have made that affected me. Same happened to all the other people in the seminar.
Often, just merely looking back, or talking about what happened, can uncover that some of the things we could swear to be true don’t make any sense at all. After my father passed 2 months ago now, I remember my mom saying something that I remembered to be true except, my timeline was off. Literally, in that instant of us talking about something that happened, I got to rewrite my story.
Certain things come with a lesson we may have missed the first time around. I could never figure out why I was trying to diet so much in my 20s when I looked so beautiful and lean in all my pictures, I realized though, I wasn’t dieting because I didn’t look good when I saw myself in a mirror but as a reaction to a comment someone made to me: “You will be fat like my mom and aunt when you grew up”. For all I know, he meant it as a joke, but it had me choose dieting and being skinny over life for at least 7 years while I was battling eating disorder and another decade or so of dieting and thinking I would only be accepted if I was skinny enough.
Looking back is not a waste of time, people! It can prevent us from making the same mistakes again and again. It can shine the light on things we couldn’t or didn’t understand at the time and offer a much needed relief. This is actually why therapy works. While I prefer coaching to therapy as it is focused more on producing results, I definitely see so much value in talking things over and letting myself share the world the way I see it so I can sort out things that I couldn’t sort out when I was younger and question things that I made up.
It’s true that we can’t change the past and that no looking back can ever have what happened be any other way than the way that it is. What we could change, however, is the stories we told when those things happened because all of us mostly living as a reaction to the story we told about the things that happened to us. Change your story, change your life. Looking at the past is an opportunity to directly impact our experience in the present and have a different future.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Wayne Dyer