“The past is just a story; the future is just an imagination.”
Long-time readers will remember this quote from us. It’s something we’ve said time and time again. I still believe that statement, but this time I’m looking at it from a different angle.
When we said it before, it was to highlight that the only time you can control is NOW. We wanted to show you that human memory is flawed and human predictions are almost always wrong, so there is no use regretting the past or worrying about the future.
But there IS power in exploring, rather than just worrying about, your past and your future. We’ve talked a lot about visualizing your dreams, drawing them out, and even affirming them, but we haven’t really talked about using your past to develop yourself.
We believe it’s all in the story you’ve created about your past, and exploring that story to see what is still useful, where the holes are, and what your deepest motivations are. But we really have to dig DEEP if we want to get the full benefits this can give us.
Maybe, if used correctly, our past can propel us further than we could have ever gone without it.
Recently I have been thinking deeply about my story. Whenever I’ve spoken about my past before today, it’s always been on a surface level.
I had a blood condition, I felt alienated, I spent all my time in and out of hospitals, I looked up to the doctors and realised I wanted to help people. End of story.
But a dear friend and mentor forced me to look deeper. He wanted me to explore the depth of my past to connect with my influences and my motivation.
I started remembering all the gritty details I had buried about my life as a sick, angry, depressed kid. I remembered long nights lying in the hospital, a trapped feeling itching under my skin making me want to pass through my body and be anywhere but HERE.
I remembered how hard it was on my mother, how I felt like a burden, how I believed that my brothers hated me because I got special attention. The fear of getting my spleen removed, the fear of brain bleeds, and the fear of death all came back to me.
And then it truly hit me, where my motivation to change had come from. At a certain point, I gave up on ever really getting over that disorder. It sounds bad, but it was freeing. I decided that no matter what darkness came at me, I would turn it into light.
I didn’t know it back then, but that was the core message I would want to share with people. No matter what happens to you, you can choose whether you reflect the same negativity back out into the world, or reflect something positive.
There is a lot more to my story and this is the first time I’ve ever really explored the gritty details, but the clarity of purpose and motivation it has already given me is life changing.
Look back to your past, to the stories you have told yourself and ask: How have they made me the person I am? Which stories are useful? Which should I hold onto? Which should I finally let go? What are my deepest motivations?
Get a journal and start writing down every memory you can think of, every detail, even those that seem mundane. Write down any feelings you remember, any places you remember, and anything else that stands out.
Out of all the years you’ve been on this earth, you probably only remember flashes of images, emotions, places, people, and thoughts. There is a reason each of those memories has stuck with you.
Delve deep into your past, think about the stories you’ve created around it and ask yourself as many questions as you can.
If you dig deep enough your past will become the most powerful tool for creating your future.