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When I decided to change my life, the goal was not only to change who I am today but to change who I was yesterday.
I know that sounds a little sketchy, but follow me for a minute.
One of my brothers and I once had an argument about what color a particular car my dad owned was. I said red, he said blue.
That’s a pretty big difference and yet we can both recall the image of the car clearly and have memories attached to it. Memories that help define who we are today. I learned how to drive in it and my brother took it for a midnight cruise one time and had a fender bender.
After making a bet, we called Mom and asked what color the car was and she said “green.”
This type of selective memory is the same thing that happens when you whisper a story into the ear of the person next to you in a room of people. They whisper it to the next and so on, until it comes back to you barely resembling the story you started with; and while this sort of thing can be a real problem when disseminating accurate information, it can be a tool when dealing with personal change because it raises valid doubts about memory and the interpretation of experience.
Memories are unreliable.
For most of us (yes, there are those cursed with perfect memory) our memories are, in fact, simply untrue. Especially the older ones.
Changing them is not self-deception, it is repurposing. We are already making them what we want them to be without intention and that is a form of delusion.
When I believe myself to be the person my memories tell me I am, I not only keep that persona alive but because the memories are largely just interpretations of events, stories I tell myself based only on my own involvement, I am also creating that person in this moment because, in truth, that person never existed.
I have a whole slew of memories that convinced me for the longest time that I was not worthy of anything good. That I was an awful person.
Maybe I was at times. There are things I have done that can’t be undone no matter how much I want them to be.
But when I view the vast majority of these inconsistent memories from the position of observer, and really, how can I be anything more than an observer since these actions are all in the past, I am able to reinterpret them not only as who I am now, but from the perspective of the person I am working to become.
When I believe myself to be more than I am in this moment, someone else, the someone I am becoming, I begin to manifest that person. I mold and shape who he is moment by moment and a large part of that fashioning of self is based on how I interpret who I was.
I did not “hate myself,” I lacked self-compassion because I hadn’t learned it yet. I know now.
I did not “deserve it,” I created it because I needed that experience to learn and grow. I am constantly learning and growing.
I was not a “horrible person,” I just hadn’t begun to learn the process of loving myself. I love myself.
I was not “blind,” I simply hadn’t learned how to use my eyes. I now see.
I was not “immature”—okay, maybe this last one is true, but it’s likely that in 20 years, I will look back on who I am today and have that same interpretation. Growing is a process that never ends.
I’m not suggesting that anyone should rewrite their entire history, just that we can release the bonds of our past and accurately predict who we will be tomorrow by rewriting the narrative of our history, our story, in a way that defines who we are becoming.
I am becoming better.
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