How to Make the Past Better than You Remember and then Super Increase Your Ability to Achieve What Your Goal is
It is the fall of 1967. My teammates and I are playing in the football playoffs for a chance to be champions in Southern California. It is tight game. The score goes back and forth, but in the end our team loses. It is a devastating sense of failure. For a long time my mind holds tenaciously onto the loss as I replay all of the the things I/we did that could have turned the game around to be the winners. Not surprisingly nothing I do in my mind helps. No matter how many replays and switches the score never changes.
All of us have these kinds of memories where we felt devastating loss that we know could have had a different outcome. It is leaves us defeated.
What is wrong with my thinking in the above scenario? Among other things the only possible outcome that I gave myself for extreme joy was to win the game and be able to call myself a champion. It caused me to hold the memory of the loss inside. Holding onto negative experiences and feelings is the process we do that takes away from having amazingly positive memories and then being highly motivated to do more.
I am on a local ski hill with my 9 year old granddaughter. She is thrilled at her progress and wants to follow my ski-mate and myself down a difficult hill. We get to the hill and as we look down it is obviously a much bigger challenge for her than she anticipated, but as she insisted, she goes forward. Three times she comes to a complete stop. Her speed is snail’s pace at best, but after a few minutes she reaches the bottom. Her mother joyously cheers for her. She has done her first black diamond. It was way over her ability, but through her diligence and the encouragement of the adults around her, she came out of it with a big sense of victory. It was never about the speed or technique. It was just making it to the bottom. She did it. The fear that the hill presented to her did not persist in her body. The rest of the day she kept taking new challenges.
In my high school football experience the only joy was in the win. It was not in the individual amazing plays. It was only the final score. To get to the same kind of joy that my granddaughter experienced I have to let go of the loss. The score was not important. As I let go of the loss, now I have access to the positive things I did, the memory is enhanced in its fullness, and I am ready to tackle new experiences with a lot of energy.
This morning I organized a tennis date with some friends at an indoor tennis center about 40 minutes from my house. It is winter in Vancouver with lots of rain so having indoor facilities is tantamount to having a great winter. When I get to the tennis center, we find that they made a mistake on the booking. We are not on the list. Instead of 2 hours of play we end up with only 1. Disappointment wants to rush in and ruin my experience. It is seeking to take over me. I let it go and play the best hour of tennis in the season. Even as I write I am remembering how great my serves and approach shots were. I am excited for my next tennis date.
Letting go of the disappointment and remembering the great play must have helped because when I arrive home I register for the Vancouver half-marathon something I have putting off. Today I have discovered how to open up my past in ways that I couldn’t ever do before and it has produced so much energy.
The formula for enhancing the past to feel more positive feelings is as follows.
- Take an experience that should have been more positive, but because someone did something or something happened, the outcome was not so favorable.
- Find out what you are holding onto like anger toward someone.
- Practice letting go of the feeling like taking it and sending it far away. Notice what is left when the negative things you are holding onto just go away. And notice how much energy you have.