This was a rejuvenating activity to do after Choice and Being Wrong. It was a nice complement to Vulnerability as well, and I generally feel good about how this one went.
The important part of this activity was to try to shift my time perspective, or at least start to shift it. There is no way that this is a short term project, but it was a good start to making some long term changes, I think. The main problem is that I am too Past negative in my time focus. Apparently, according to Philip Zimbardo’s talk and book, the perfect time perspective is much higher in Past positive, Present hedonistic and Future than I had at the beginning of the activity.
Completing the worksheets from Philip’s book was a very enlightening experience for me, particularly the Who I was, Who I am and Who I will be. What I realised from these lists was that my entire past conceptualisation of myself is based pretty much entirely on the really negative experiences from my childhood and early adult life. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, “On the whole, I see my past self as being weak, easily manipulated, unhappy and very alone in the world – gee, I wonder why I am Past-negative?”
Interestingly though, when I completed the Who I am list I realised that I am actually a lot stronger than I often give myself credit for. This is something that has come out in a few activities throughout the project, but I think that I realised it more with this list. I realised that although I am far from perfect and I still have a long way to go to be the person I want to be, I’m a lot closer than I thought. There were only a few words that were completely different from the Who I am and Who I will be lists, which was very positive for me to discover.
Process of re-framing
After these realisations, and reading more of Philip’s book, I’ve been in a process of trying to re-frame how I think of my past and how I think of myself now. This should be no surprise since this entire project has been a personal development process to try to change myself and the way I view myself in the world, but this was a more focused activity.
What the revelations above have helped me understand is that I have held onto all of the bad things in my life, and the fact that I have not only survived them but that I have done quite well for myself. Framing myself like this has been one of the ways that I have felt proud of myself and my achievements. The problem with this is, when I started thinking of things in this way I realised that I shouldn’t have to hold onto past misery and disappointment to feel good about myself and my life. I don’t need to keep hold of how far I have come to be proud of where I am and what I am achieving.
The re-framing will take a lot longer to really sink in, so that when I am not focused on making these changes I don’t slip back into my old mindset. It will be a long process where I need to spend time shifting my past focus to being more positive and finding a way to realise that I am enough, right now, without a comparison to the past.
A happy childhood
I’ve been trying to remember happy memories from my childhood. There are many of them, especially from when I was under 12 years old. I’ve also been going through old photos to assist this process, which I hope that my sister and brother don’t mind me sharing here.
I’ll leave the more embarrassing ones from my teens to your imagination, let’s just say that 80’s fashion and hairstyles were not kind to most of us 🙂
More to do
There are still a few activities from Philip’s book that I want to do, there just wasn’t the time to do it in the 30 days. As I said, this will be a long process, but if it can keep my current mindset in place I think that I will be generally happier with my place in the world.
This was also an important activity to have completed before I started to sort out Balance. I only wish I had done all of the worksheets before I started the Project, because I’m certain that the present and future answers would have been quite different over 11 months ago.
Thank you Philip for all of your TED talks, but particularly introducing me to the concept of time perspectives and the impact they can have. I am certain that this will change my life in a very positive way.