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You Can’t Change the Past — Oh Yes, You Can! — 3 Comments

  1. Thanks Laura, this is fascinating. One question though. When you say, “I recommend selecting a memory that has some emotional charge but not a huge amount”, do you mean a negative memory only, so that we can practice changing it to a positive one? How do we know if it’s only a small emotional charge. Are there questions we can ask ourselves about this? I know sometimes I’m afraid of looking back because of the hurt I remember.

  2. Hi Tracey-Jane – these are great questions, thank you!

    1) Do you mean a negative memory only, so that we can practice changing it to a positive one?
    Actually, both positive and negative memories can have a strong charge. Since both are in the past, it is possible to lose our sense of easing when we “go back in time” in our heads. With a negative memory we may be more aware of losing the sensation of easing as we remember the pain associated with a negative memory. Because we may like our positive memory and like the old feelings it brings up – sort of like when you hear a favorite song that was playing on your first happy date – we may not notice that we have left the easiness of the here and now and gone into the past. I’m not saying that we can’t remember the past events (good or bad) but that we want to remember them, but not get lost or pulled back into emotions we had back then.

    It would be end-gaining if your goal was to turn a negative memory into a positive one. I was thinking more of unraveling the hold that the negative memory had. The memory exists, the event happened, what we can change is how we react to what happened.

    2) How do we know if it’s only a small emotional charge?
    By a small emotional charge, I mean something that isn’t so important, or loud in your memory. Since this is a new process you’ll be applying, it’s helpful not to start with the hardest task first. Selecting something that’s a bit easier, like learning to walk before trying to run, practicing on a memory of having supper with friends will probably be easier than starting with a family holiday dinner. I hope this clarifies that a bit.

    3) Are there questions we can ask ourselves about this?
    I’m thinking you mean questions to ask to test the amount of emotional charge in a certain memory?
    You started to answer this when you said you’re “sometimes afraid of looking back because of the hurt I remember.” The memories with remembered hurts will have a strong charge.

    For example: I can see in my mind the bad landing I made when my ankle twisted, my knee popped back and my ACL tore off the femur as I fell to the ground. I’ve worked on this one a bit because at first my whole body would shudder when I remembered this. Now, my eyes squint a bit, and I can feel my body tighten. My muscles draw in tighter around my bones. I and my body still have a “not easy” reaction to this memory but it’s not as dramatic as the full body shudder I got right after it happened.

    If you start by scanning and noticing easiness somewhere in your body and then think about a memory, if the easiness stays the same it’s probably a memory without a super strong charge. If when you think about your memory, you forget about noticing easiness all together, that memory probably has a stronger charge.

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