‘Time is a great healer.’
Or so we’re told.
It seems we mostly accept it as true, without really thinking through what it means, or how we might use time to speed up healing.
I mean, to start with, what is time?
Well, physicists are still scratching their heads and philosophers still waxing lyrical. And the rest of us are scampering to not be late for our next appointment!
One thing they seem to agree on is that time is an illusion.
And that’s true. There is no time!
Time is simply a concept that gives us a way to measure change
You can easily recall significant events in your life. And even if you can’t attach a specific date to an incident, you still know when they occurred, relative to other experiences.
In reality, there’s only the present moment, followed by another present moment, then another, and so on.
And what’s an alternative word for present?
Every present moment we have is a true gift
You can’t point to, or touch, a past, or future experience so that others can share it. People can’t see your experiences (probably just as well!) or your visions for the future. Your past and future exist only in your head. But don’t worry you’re not on your own — we all have our own memories, and visions for the future.
So, if time is only this present moment, why is it so difficult to let go of screw-ups, mistakes, and misunderstandings from our past? And, more importantly, how does time heal?
Healing can be difficult
But it doesn’t need to be!
Yes, you might feel remorseful or embarrassed about the cock-ups, or your contribution to things that went pear-shaped. You might think you’ve failed because of something you’ve done — or not done. But you don’t have to hang to those feelings — unless you want them to stuff up your entire life!
If you do want to hang on to those painful feelings forever, here’s what to do: vividly replay the memory, like a horror movie on endless loop, with full colour and surround sound. That way you can glean further unwanted, painful feelings. It’s like having a secret stash of ‘blooper reels’ that only you get to cringe at. In other words, by reliving that memory in the present — you stuff up any chance of happiness right now.
Why am I making a joke of this?
Because this is what most people do!
And I’m hoping that when you see it written down in front of you, it might remind you of something you’ve been trying to get over. And because I’m going to show you a way you can do that.
The problem with reviewing those train wrecks you might have been involved in is that, with every review, you significantly change the memory — usually making it worse each time! Have a look at The Myth of a Reliable Memory for how this works.
Of course this revivification process does nothing to resolve the situation. It just makes you feel rotten, diminishes your self-esteem, and prevents you from moving forward. (Yay! Go you!)
This doesn’t mean to say that our concept of time is a bad thing
I mean, without some measurement of duration, as we’ve created it, we wouldn’t know when to turn up for work (OK, — maybe that’s not such a great example!) What if you missed meeting that special date? Missed the flight for your holiday (Uh oh! I’ve done this — so again, maybe not such good example!)
The point is, that if we don’t have some universal agreements about past, present and future, it would be pandemonium, right?
A productive way of using time
I want to show you a way of using time to heal from past events. And it’s only going to take you a few minutes. That way, you can stop beating yourself with a metaphorical stick, and get on and do wonderful things in your life.
First, a simple illustration that I know you’ll find intriguing:
Think about something small you’ve done or said that you’ve regretted. Some examples;
- forgetting to put out the rubbish,
- raising your voice to someone,
- breaking a vase.
Find something in the last two or three weeks if you can.
Great! Now, in your mind, imagine that you’re before that event that you regret. So, in your mind, you’re looking toward the event before it occurred.
As you do this, notice where the regret is now.
That’s right, it’s gone, hasn’t it?
Isn’t that interesting?
It’s like regretting a haircut you haven’t even got yet! There can’t be any regret, because you can’t regret things that haven’t happened. So when you examine an event from a time before it happened, the regret can’t be there.
But what if you look at a bigger blunder from the perspective of after it happened?
Let’s examine a different situation and use the concept of time to help change your thoughts and feelings around this as well.
Think about an event, incident, or other situation that you believe was a screw-up, failure, or catastrophe. This boo boo could have been years or even decades ago.
Move to your future
- In your mind, imagine going out 3 months into your future. Look back on the event that you’ve deemed a problem.
What is there to learn with the distance that time creates?
- Now, in your mind, imagine yourself six months in the future and note what date that will be. Look back on that failure event from that future date.
What can you learn having had a six-month interval?
- Notice how you feel about the boo boo now.
- Okay. Imagine it’s a year from now and you’re looking back and seeing that old event.
Anything new to learn?
- Does the whole thing seem less significant now?
- Now go out ten years from now. As you look at that past event from the perspective of ten years hence, how important does it seem now?
What else could you learn?
- OK, now go fifty years into the future. (come on…play along! It’ll be worth your while — promise.)
- You may be in your old age, or you might have even passed over. Is there something you could learn that you can use to prevent a similar situation?
- How important does that failure seem looking back on it from fifty years in the future?
If the horrible event doesn’t seem pretty insignificant by this stage, please carry on! Try 100 years, 1000 years, 10,000 years and 1 million years in the future.
Now, take all those learnings and imagine putting them into a tiny box and then carefully wrapping the box. Now tie it with a ribbon and give it to yourself as a gift.
All your learnings are contained in your present.
After completing this exercise, if you’re still losing sleep about some fiasco, it might be worthwhile getting in contact for some coaching. Life’s too short to be hanging on to this kind of negativity.
Ponder this quotation from Eckhart Tolle;
“Time isn’t precious at all because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious, indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”
― From, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
Your might also find these posts useful:
- 7 Courageous Steps to Handling Failure
- There’s No Failure, Only Feedback
- Remarkable Insights That Will Make You Question Your Memory
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Please post it below.Tags: Change, Health and wellbeing, Learning and memory, Resilience, Time