Tag Archives: Past

I remember this story I read once in a book on communication. The story goes like this:

And old guy was sitting at edge of a small town out in the old west. He saw a horse and wagon, pulling a family of four. They stopped, and greeted the stranger.

“So, tell me, how are the people in this town?” They asked.
“Well, how were the people in your old town?” The stranger replied.
“Oh, they were pretty nice. Friendly, always willing to lend a hand.
The stranger smiled.
“Well, that sounds like the people in this town.” He said. The family thanked him and rode past toward there new home.

A few minutes later he saw another horse and wagon, pulling another family. They two were moving into town.
“So, tell me, how are the people in this town?” They asked.
“Well, how were the people in your old town,” the stranger replied.
“Oh, not so good. Always sticking their noses in where they didn’t belong, gossiping, always waiting for you to make a mistake so they could take advantage of you.”
“Hmm.” The stranger said, shaking his head.
“I’m afraid you’ll find people in this town the same way.” They thanked him, and rode toward their new home.

There’s a powerful method of goal setting, or rather goal getting, called the solutions focus. In it, you take whatever goal you are aiming at, and periodically do an inventory of what you’ve done so far. You rate yourself on a scale of one to ten, ten meaning your goal has already been achieved, and you are enjoying the results, while one is you haven’t even started yet.

Whatever number you give yourself, then you ask yourself why that number, and not a lower number. Even if you gave yourself a 1.5 rather than a 1, ask yourself why. This forces you to come up with all the positive things you’ve done recently that have moved you toward your goal.

The next step is to figure out what small steps you cold take to get you from a 1.5 to 2.

This is called the solutions focus because you force yourself to focus on what you are doing right, rather than what is standing in your way.

In the story above, the family that found the previous town filled with happy friendly people were likely to find the same in the new town, not because an objective measurement would show their previous town as filled with happy, smiling people but because they were the kind of people that seemed to find the good in others.

The second family, by comparison, even though they were going to the same town, would likely find only pettiness and unfriendliness, because that is what they look for. If you look for crap, that’s all you’ll find. But if you look for treasure, you’ll likely find that as well.

There are plenty of good metaphors and stories that illustrate this point.

There’s also a pretty good exercise to give yourself a lot more resources that you think you have. Here’s how.

Think of a skill you’d like to develop, or one that you don’t think that you have. Then relax a bit, put yourself into a comfortable position, and take an inventory of your life history, and look for any evidence of when you’ve already exhibited this skill you are aiming to develop.

For example, if you want to become a good public speaker, just find all the times in your history that you spoke in front of others. Any time since you can remember from your earliest childhood memories are fine. And any public communication is fine. Yelling, screaming, singing, any time you spoke out in public and effectively got any point across.

Now whenever you think to the future, and any potential public speaking engagements you may be involved in, force your mind to those times in the past when you’ve already done what you are planning to do. When you do this enough times, your brain will start to see public speaking as something that’s normal and natural for you, and not something that is strange and terrifying, as it is for most people.

Like it or not, your past does influence your future. But there are so many ways to interpret your past, so many different memories and events that you were part of, that you can literally take any event, and spin it any way you like to support any future you’d like to create. Of course, there are some limits. For example, I’d have hard time finding some past experience that supported my goal of being able to slam dunk a basketball. It just ain’t gonna happen. But I would be able to vastly improve my outside shooting, my free throws, and any other part of the game that wasn’t wholly dependent on my height and my vertical jumping capability.

As much as we’d like to believe, we aren’t psychic. We can’t predict the future. But we can make reasonable assumptions on how things are going to turn out based on what happened in the past. And when you can choose which part of your past to reference, and how to interpret it, you give yourself a lot more flexibility.

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Success with NLP

Easily Change Your History For A Powerful Present

How To Build a Mental Time Machine

There was this really cool movie called “The Butterfly Effect,” that came out a few years ago. They made a sequel that was OK, but not nearly as powerful as the original. The reason it was called “The Butterfly Effect,” was because of part of something called “Chaos Theory.” The name, of course is a misnomer, as Chaos means behaving without any set of rules. The chaos in Chaos theory though refers to not having any discernable rules or observable cause/effect phenomenon.

The weather is a great example of Chaos Effect in action. There are many different variables, and they are all strongly interactive. A change here, will effect a change there, which will in turn affect a change over, which will cause a change back here, and so on. Because we humans have a fairly limited capacity when it comes to having instincts for multi variable systems, it appears chaotic and impossible to describe even using our best computes. That’s why when they predict the rain, they give percentages rather than absolutes. No matter how sophisticated our machines and computers get, due to the nature of the system, we still have to guess about the weather.

The term “Butterfly Effect” refers to a butterfly flapping it’s wings on one side of the planet, and the effect rippling through the complex interactive meteorological system, and eventually causing a hurricane on the other side of the world.

It was also alluded to in a story by Ray Bradbury, where a group of scientists created a time machine. They were getting set to go on their first mission, but they were strongly admonished not to interact at all with anything they saw in the past, as it would have an unknown effect in the future. So they went back in time, and were looking around. One of the scientists saw a butterfly, and decided to collect it. This of course, violated the rules of “non interaction.” When they returned to the present, everything was vastly changed, language, society, government, everything. One butterfly changed the entire future.

There was even an episode of the Simpson’s where Homer had a time machine, and they kept trying to come back to the normal present, but kept messing up. In one particular future they came back to, it was raining donuts, but they had big tongues like lizards.

If you’ve seen the movie, “The Butterfly Effect,” you know it follows the same pattern. The character can go back in time and relive part of his past, and when he comes back to the present, everything is changed. Every time he comes back, everything seems good, until he discovers something horribly wrong, and he has to go back and change something again.

While that is only a movie, and the idea of a butterfly causing a hurricane on the other side of the planet is largely metaphorical for the complex interactions in nature, there actually is a way to go back and change part of your past.

The way we are today, our behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs about our capabilities are based largely on what we have experienced and how we remember our past. While this is horrible news if you come with a bunch of baggage from an unpleasant or abusive childhood, it doesn’t have to be that way.

This is because our past is not really as solid as we think. Our own personal histories are based much more on our interpretation of events rather than the events themselves. If we can go back and somehow give a different interpretation to the events of the past, we can change our present.

Some people can do this pretty easy in the present. They’ll be walking down the street, bump into somebody, get cussed out, and simply write it off as the other guy having a bad day, without taking personal offense. The same is possible with our past, even though it’s already happened.

When we were kids, we didn’t have a lot of resources or a lot of experience, so there were only so many ways we could respond to bad things that happened to us. We didn’t have the adult experience to write it off as somebody simply having a bad day, as the example above.

If you have a particularly painful memory from the past, here’s a great way to “re program” your history.

Sit back, relax, and close your eyes. Drift back to that “event” that is still causing you problems today. Watch the event unfold. Watch it again, but freeze the frame every so often, and look at the other people involved in the event with a more adult, forgiving attitude. Maybe they just didn’t know any better. Maybe they were expressing their own pain the best way they could. Give them the benefit of the doubt as much as you can. Remember the wise words of Nelson Mandela: “Holding a grudge is like swallowing poison and hoping the other person dies.”

Stay dissociated, that is, watch the event unfolding, as if you are some kind of ghost from the future watching it unfold. After you’ve given as much adult understand as you can to all the players involved, watch it again, but this time, step in and interact with your child self. Explain to your child self who you are (yourself from the future) and what is really going on. Tell them whatever all the other people are doing, it’s nothing personal. Make sure your child self understand.

Now for the cool part. Go back and relive that experience, but this time as associated as you can. Float into your child’s body, but this time, really feel and experience your future self giving you guidance and support as the event unfolds. As a child, listen to the advice of your future self. Run through this several times.

This may seem awkward, and perhaps even emotionally painful at first, but just like with any other exercise, you’ll get better with practice. Pretty soon you’ll be able blink yourself back into your past, and re organize your responses to what happened, and give yourself a much brighter future. Just like Richard Bandler, the co founder of NLP said, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

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Powerful Focus on the Present to Create an Automatic Future

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you just stopped thinking about the future? I don’t mean forget your three year plan for a while, or even take a break from your exercise routine. I mean totally, completely live in the present. I read a book on datingÂ that said the best thingÂ to do when you meet somebody for the first timeÂ was to walk up toÂ them completely cold. That is, not have any clue whatsoever what you were going to say until you actually opened your mouth and started talking. Just make it up right there, and let the words come out however they may.

Sounds pretty terrifying, and it is, at first. Then something really strange happens. You start to get really creative, and think of wonderful things to say right there, right in the moment. It’s like by releasing all the worry and anxiety about what you think you should say, you open yourself up to really pay attention to what is going on right here in front of you. And when you are talking to somebody, and you really feel present here, you can really begin to feel something special. It’s hard to describe if you have never been able to experience this, now.

I was reading aÂ novel once, I believe it was The Vanished Man by Jeffrey Deaver. In this book, these cops were talking to an expert on magic and illusions. And he was saying that there really is no past, because all the memories we have are fairly inaccurate. And the present is unknown, which really only leaves us with the present. And when you focus too much on a future, through worrying about something that isn’t likely to happen, you lose mental energy. And when you bring up stuff from the past, that you don’t remember correctly anyways, you also lose mental energy.

By focusing your energy on the present, you can really begin to notice the abundance that has been around you all the time. Waiting patiently for you to dive into it and let the world know what it is you want.

Of course you always need to have an eye on the future, so that you can plan to be successful in the way that you want. It’s just as important to keep learnings from the past handy in case you discover an opportunity where you can apply them to receive immediate benefit. The trick is toÂ leverage learnings from your pastÂ into your future by choosing the right actions and thoughts to have and do now, in the present. When you can optimize your present thoughts and actions, your future will pretty much take of itself. All you have to do is show up and meet it.