Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rewrite Your History - How To Change Your Past So You Can Live Fully In The Present

As I fumbled through some old files this evening, cleaning up my home office, I ran across a journal of quotes I'd started in 1994. (Ok, yes, I had quite a stack of books and papers I was going through.) I opened the journal, and right there on the first page was a quote that caught my eye and I knew I had to share it with you. It says:

"Immaturity is allowing someone else to author your history. Maturity is accepting the authorship of your history. You cannot change history, but you can write history." This was a statement made by a professor in my Fall semester of college in 1994 - I was a Junior. I specifically remember this course and especially this professor, Dr. Anderson. As I read the quote, now 13 years later, I'm nostalgic, and am glad I ran across the quote.

So, I ran right into the kitchen where my husband was preparing dinner and was eager to read him this nugget of information - a blast from my past that is just as relevant today as it was then. He was confused. You might be, too. Let me give you my perspective...

What It All Means

Maturity, by definition, means being fully developed in body or mind; we all strive to become mature in our growth. We want to be grounded and centered in our thoughts and in our emotions; we want to feel as if we are somebody and that we've accomplished great things. We envision this coming from a place of maturity... "a time when."

The problem with living in "a time when" is that we fall victim to the stories of our past and the inability to accept what is happening right now. The stories of our past... you grew up in a divorced home, you weren't given the same opportunities as others, or you are the child of an alcoholic. Those are the stories we hold onto. We use them as excuses for who we are, what we're doing, and how we feel. But, that is an immature process.

Create a New Label for Yourself

Maturity means accepting - and I mean really accepting - that your past is yours, and everything in it you created. Yes, you read that right - you created it. And I know this is a hard thing to hear, "What do you mean I CREATED the alcoholic parents I had?" Or, "There is no way I CREATED a childhood like that." Well, no, you didn't create the circumstances of your life (or maybe you did, but that's for another article). But you DID create an emotion and a belief based on that circumstance. From birth through about the age of 18, you were a follower (well, except through the teenage years when most of us rebelled like crazy). But now that you're an adult, you can no longer hang on to the stories of your past, if you want to change your emotions of now.

You see, you can choose to rewrite the stories of your past - your perceptions become your reality. (Instead of, "I'm an adult child of an alcoholic", how about, "I'm an adult child of a loving, caring Mother?" I mean, the reality for all of us is, there ARE positive times that you can draw from in your past - choose to dwell on THOSE and make a new label for yourself.) And when you CHOOSE to see what good came of the situations in your life, then you can move past the emotional upset you have today. It's not the THINGS you're holding on to, it's the emotion. Unfortunately, it's that emotion that is keeping you stuck where you don't want to be - overweight, unsuccessful, broke, sad, irritable, etc.

Immaturity or Maturity?

The choice is yours. Immaturity or maturity? From this day forward, you must decide how you want to live your life - as one who has no control or one who has absolute control over your history, and your future, which will become your new history. If you truly want to move forward, you have to let go of the stories. Letting go is difficult, but it must be done, there is no other way.

I was talking to a colleague today who said he uses the Marine creed with his clients: Improvise, adapt, and then overcome. That is exactly what you must do, but first make the decision. When you are ready to move forward, you will. If you choose to remain stuck, you will. The choice is yours.

Thanks to Dr. Anderson, I learned an important reality on that hot Fall day in 1994, "Immaturity is allowing someone else to author your history. Maturity is accepting the authorship of your history. You cannot change history, but you can write history." Will you choose to write yours?

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