Revising your past history

When something dreadful happens to us, our first inclination is to take total responsibility for the incident, outcome and lasting effects. We blame ourselves for accidents as if we are in control of everyone's fate. We blame our imperfections for the breakup or loss of a relationship. We accuse ourselves of being totally at fault for what turned out to be a disaster. We create an unlivable situation for ourselves and others who get in our way.

We typically resolve this condition by adopting a completely reversed stance. We take no responsibility for what happened. We tell a victim story about what happened to us, how bad it felt and how it was totally out of our control. We cannot find a middle ground between total guilt and total blaming others. We see no way to share responsibility or consider both extremes as partly true. We usually opt for the way to live with ourselves that wallows in self pity. We live in our past with a stuck story about what we endured and how it hurt us. We carry some very heavy baggage around with us wherever we go.

It appears we get imprinted by these traumatic incidents like seismometers recording earthquakes. We're in shock from having been deeply shaken. We're convinced there could be no changing what happened. "What's done is done -- the facts are facts." We have no choice but to adopt a stance of powerlessness in the face of our cruel fate, bad luck or personal misfortune. We go through life without a conceptual framework for changing our past history.

Revising your past history is easy if you know what to do. This process does not change the facts of what happened which are already accurate. This framework changes your story about those facts. Here's a cursory glance at the process for revising your tragic history:
  1. Write out what happened to you so you can see it objectively as a story worth telling better than you have already.
  2. Notice how this story is all about you, what happened to you and how it felt to you. Accept that is a very good place to start.
  3. Consider how you've portrayed the adversary in your story as lacking: depth of character, back story motivations, previous provocations that become immediate temptations in the situation, inner conflicts about mistreating you, later regrets that haunted him/her, self deceptions about the endless repercussions and much more.
  4. Realize that your story describes a single incident or two in isolation rather than a long series of events, buildup to a significant climax, cycles of recurring conflicts and chain reactions where one thing leads to another.
  5. Ponder how you have things in common with the one your blame for your suffering, how you care about similar things, react in similar ways, and appear like-minded to others in spite of identifying with being the total opposite of him/her.
  6. Reveal how much you grown since then, changed as a result of this incident, acquired new abilities over time and gained more perspectives with age.
  7. Rewrite your story with all this added in -- then see how you feel about your past history now.

When this process takes effect, some of your baggage gets dropped off for good. You can move forward with a lighter load than the one you've been carrying around with you all these years. It makes sense to let go of tragic tale you've been holding onto and see others with more understanding, empathy and compassion. It feels better to embrace the whole story rather than the small fragment you've been clinging to for dear life. You see how to rise above the painful incident and view the panoramic perspective that includes your sad tale among many others.


  1. Hi, this is a fascinating series of posts, thank you !

  2. thanks for the appreciation!