Rewriting Your Past – A Tool to Understand Yourself

In her new book, Everything is Figureoutable, Marie Forleo presents a free writing exercise for 7 days which helps you figure out what you want in life. It’s a great and valuable exercise when you’re really not sure where you want to go, and I suggest you pick up a copy of the book and check it out (it’s at the end of Chapter 6).

Free Writing vs Rewriting

However, if you’re feeling stuck and think you might have some unconscious self-limiting beliefs which are holding you back, all the free writing in the world won’t help you overcome these blocks and let you hit the target that ignites your soul. Something will always get in the way.

Code of the Extraordinary Mind

If you’ve been here before, you’ll see I read a lot of books – both from the reviews I post and also the list in my last post. I am sharing my journey on this site as I uncover my own self-limiting beliefs and live the best life possible to help you identify tools and resources to do the same for you. Some of these books have helped me pinpoint some issues (Home Coming, No More Mr Nice Guy and Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself to name but three), but this takes a high degree of objectivity which is sometimes hard to do to yourself. A good friend is helpful here as they tell you straight what some of your limitations are. Or get a good counsellor!

During my own process, I discovered that “Rewriting Your Life” uncovers things you take for granted, things that form your unconscious programming and self-limiting beliefs. It’s a form of journaling and a way to become objective about your past.

I also draw on the work of Vishen Lakhiani in his Code of the Extraordinary Mind in this process where he talks specifically about the Culturescape (as well as Brules and other topics – see image above right). This was one of the earlier books I encountered in my journey to find my own authenticity, but I wasn’t fully ready when I read it. I have followed the scenic route to understand other aspects of my self and I now better understand his wisdom and his 10 steps make a lot more sense now. But I digress.

The Rewriting Process

Here’s how it works (homework time!):

Take out a pen, or sit at your computer or tablet and write out your life. Pick a period (like your childhood or any decade) or a topic (like work or romance) and sketch out what happened and how it worked out. Try to get as much down as you can – you can come back to it and flesh out the details as you go. It’s like writing your memoirs (but you’re not worried about publication) – it’s a tool to help you understand yourself and understand “where you come from” (literally how you were formed). You can start with a list of headings, like the major events in this period and then add the details under each. Start somewhere and fill in the gaps as you remember them. It’s retrospective journalling!

The Rewriting Benefits

In my last post, I shared my story of growing up, going through school and into work. There’s still much more I will add to my story over time but the essence of rewriting your life is that it shows where key events occurred that had a significant impact and made you who you are today. If you are like me, you may have consigned these to be just “the past” but it’s cathartic to read your life as an observer on paper. It gives you the objectivity you don’t have when simply reflecting on memories as your other subconscious programs get in the way. Remember, your subconscious is simply there to help you survive and so its goal is to protect you, so it adopts things it thinks will help achieve this objective. However, you are looking to thrive and go beyond just surviving so you need to get in there, roll up your sleeves and get dirty with these programs.

You’ll see in my story that I keep a simple scorecard of Culturescape vs Authenticity where external influences won out over my own dreams and aspirations. All the Culturescape wins may unconsciously embed limiting beliefs in you which run on auto-pilot and prevent you really getting where you dream to be. My scorecard system serves to highlight the key formative events and whether I think they had a positive or negative effect on my own authenticity or aspirations. Note that if you believe the advice you took at a certain point in time was beneficial, count this as a point for Authenticity as it’s a positive benefit, but you’ll know instinctively when you read your life back which way the event swung the points.

It’s not the total that matters but how each event highlights the times in your life that the needle swung one way or the other. These points in time act as inflection points for you to review the decisions, why you made them, and if that thought process continues to serve you positively or negatively today. Don’t get seduced into thinking a total that shows a narrow victory for Authenticity over Culturescape means you’re winning (that’s your subconscious running in survival mode) but review each event independently – you may also see patterns emerging and gain some deep insights into your truest self (which is the real game plan).

I hope your journey is a fulfilling one of self-discovery as mine is, and do tell me about your own insights in the comments below. Happy Rewriting!

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