The past is a foreign country

Creative Commons license courtesy anthonychammond

Creative Commons license courtesy anthonychammond

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. ~ L. P. Hartley: The Go-Between (1953)

Even better, with an active imagination, we can alter the past. (I am only partly kidding about that.)

Actually, imagining a past different than it was probably won’t serve us. There is a way, though, to get free of the prisons of our imagined past.

Any two people who have been at an event which they later read described in a newspaper will tell you they saw things differently. One will say one thing and another will share their own different view.

Or, ask any two people in a relationship about a past event and expect to hear more than one story.

Notice whenever you’re telling a story from your past. Maybe it’s a story about you being right and someone else being wrong. Or, maybe it’s a story about what someone did to you. Maybe you’re noticing that each time you tell the story, you’re filling in some details or smoothing out some spots. In that case, it may be that the story has you imprisoned, and you’re stuck in your story.

If you’d like to be free of that story’s prison, try this little four-step exercise:

  • 1 – Look back at an event in your past
  • 2 – Write the story about it using only 20 words
  • 3 – Stick to the facts and leave out blame or strong emotion
  • 4 – Notice how the story can lose its grip over you

That’s it!

There are other ideas in 108 Steps Of Happiness.

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