If I were to ask you who you are, you would probably answer with some information from your past. Most of us go through life not really challenging our stories – we believe them as fact.
While we can’t change the circumstances of our past, it is 100% in our control to decide what we make those circumstances mean. Listen to understand how you may be using your past against you, and how you can change your story in a way that empowers you.
I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal From Infidelity podcast, episode number 15, Changing Your Past.
Hello and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast where courageous women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves ever. If you know there’s more for than the life you’re currently living but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place. Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks off. Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host, Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hey everybody. How’s everybody doing? I hope that your week has been good. I hope that you are staying warm if you are living in places that are starting to get cold outside. Here in Montana, we got dumped on with snow and then it melted all off, and it’s actually really, really nice this week. So I am enjoying a little warmth before it inevitably gets cold again. Anyway, I appreciate you all being here today. I love hearing from you and I’m going to go ahead and just dive right in. So today I’m going to talk about changing your past. What does that mean? How can you change your past? I’m going to teach you how you can change your past. So to start out, I want to ask you a question. If I were to ask you who you are, so I come to you and say, “Who are you? Tell me who you are. Tell me about yourself.”
In your mind, where does your brain go to answer that question? Does it go to your past to inform who you are to say who you are or does it go to the future? Next question, what do you want? If I were to come and ask you what you want, where is that information from? Is it from a future version of you in who you’re going to be and who you want to be? Or do you look to the past of the things that you maybe think you want, don’t think you can have, limitations that you’ve put on yourself based on your past. The thing about the past is that it’s all in your mind. If you’re answering from the past, you’re neither living in the present or in the future. You’re still living in the past.
The only way the past actually exists is because of the thoughts you’re having about it now. It’s over. It’s over and done. The events from the past are over. We make them current events by current thinking. Our past actually does not affect us, our current thoughts about our past do. You have a memorized story about the past. It’s probably a pretty nice script about your past. I’m going to tell you mine later, my script that I lived by for many years. Stick around for that, I think you’ll learn a lot from it, from what my story was and what it now is. So how many of you remember things from your past and let’s say you’re sitting around with family members like your siblings and you remember it totally different? I have a sister who has a very good memory, and I’ll remember things that I’m sure I’m remembering correctly, and then she’ll come in and be like, “No, that’s not how it happened at all.”
And I’m talking like things that I remember people saying or facts about things, and turns out sometimes I’m wrong. It’s so interesting how the stories that we tell about our past are totally dependent on our mind. We remember things so differently. We truly do have different ideas of events like how one person will view it one way, one will view it another way. What about old wounds? Do you identify yourself as having old wounds? Can you think of any? Guess what? There’s actually no such thing. There is maybe an event that happened at a certain time that created a wound in you. Let’s say that there was something that happened that created a wound when you were seven years old. At the time that hurt you. And the thing about it is that the reason it’s hurting you now is because you keep bringing that past thing to your current state. You keep reliving it over and over and over again.
Now, I understand that this can be hard to hear because we hold on pretty tight to our stories. Why do we do that? We do it as a means of self-protection in many ways. If I just hold onto this story, I’ll keep myself from getting wounded again. If I just remember that this is who I am, this is what I’m capable of, this is what my life is like, this is how things are for me, then I’ll protect myself from getting hurt in some way. But here’s the question. What would we be without our stories? What would we be? The good news is that you have all the power to create a different story for yourself. You have all the power to drop the stories that you’re telling and create a story that serves you much better.
I’ll talk more in depth about that. For example, let’s say that your husband had an affair seven years ago. Whenever you think about it, you feel resentful that he made this choice. You stayed with him, but you still can’t believe that he did it. You doubt his character when you think about it. You put on a happy face and you pretend like you have forgiven him, and you pretend like you’ve moved forward. But inside you truly can’t understand why he would do such a thing. You keep rehashing when you found out. You keep rehashing the things leading up to it. You keep rehashing the painful memories associated with it over and over again. You keep bringing it current instead of letting it be in the past. Now, I am not saying at all to just sweep things under the rug that need to be dealt with at an emotional level.
If you’ll go back to an earlier podcast of mine called Feeling Your Feelings, it’s all about this. It’s all about dealing with our painful emotions. We can’t just sweep them under the rug. They will come up. They will be dealt with one way or another. I’m talking about our thoughts and how we use our thoughts to create so much pain for ourself. In that example, we continue to tell ourself a story over and over again that is casting us as the victim, casting them as the villain. And those stories keep us locked into those roles. As long as we keep telling that story where they’re the villain and we’re the victim, we keep playing that out and playing that out. And the problem is that the victim feels pretty helpless, and that’s not a great way to feel. It’s not a great way to move forward and really own your own life.
Another example. What about abuse? Let’s say that you were abused as a young adult. You still feel shame whenever you think about it. You feel embarrassed, even if the abuse itself is long over. You might pretend that by replaying it, maybe we’ll feel better, but we never do. We are essentially abusing ourselves emotionally over and over again by playing it out over and over again in our mind. What about our own regrets? We can replay and replay those over and over like a loop. Relive the embarrassment, play out how we wish we would’ve done things differently. But guess what? We didn’t. We didn’t do them differently. We did them the same way. One way that I have found some peace around my own mistakes is by this thought. It was always going to happen this way. I remember the first time I heard that thought offered to me as something that I could think. At the time I was remarried to my husband now, but still just kind of baffled at how things unfolded with my first husband and where I found myself still dealing with a lot of pain.
And I remember when I first heard that thought, it was always going to happen this way. I felt instant relief. I remember going, “What? I can actually think that if I want to?” And even just trying that thought on felt like relief, like nothing went wrong. It was always going to happen this way. This was always going to be the way things went down. Our marriage was always going to end after being married for 16 years. He was always going to do the things that he did. He was always going to pass away at 39. I was always going to be a single mom. I thought that I was going to be married to him for the long run, and I was wrong about that. I was always going to marry a widower. That’s how that thought has served me. To be able to set down that resistance, that something terrible has gone wrong and just go, “Okay, it was always going to happen this way.”
And then my mind goes to work looking for the reasons how I know that’s true and why that might be. When we argue with it, we create more and more resistance for ourselves. And in the words of Byron Katie, when you argue with the past, you lose. But only 100% of the time. Ain’t that the truth? Arguing with reality has never gotten us anywhere. Now, many of my clients have been victims of really tough circumstances. Sometimes there is really deep work to heal from, trauma, sometimes PTSD. I am not in any way trying to play down the role of deep trauma work. I know that it can be very, very effective. EMDR, for example, specific therapy for PTSD. Those things are real, and I’m not trying to minimize them. But what I am speaking to is the thought work involved, that we have so much power to shift the story that we’re currently telling to one that serves us better, to one that empowers us rather than victimizes us.
Another really powerful phrase I have adopted and that I encourage you to adopt is that it’s all happening for you. Another way to say it is all working for you. So for example, let’s say you had really tough parents growing up. You might believe that you got the short end of the stick. I wonder what other story you could tell. I wonder if you really believed that it was all working for you to your advantage what story you might tell instead about the parents you had. Next, what about an abusive spouse? How could that possibly be working for you? What do you think? On the one hand, we can think I married the wrong guy and it ruined my life. In the example of the parents, my parents were abusive and it ruined my life. Let’s say you married somebody who cheated on you.
My podcast is called Healing from Infidelity. So what about that? We could think my husband cheated on me and it destroyed my marriage, but I want to know what else it could mean. What about, “I married my husband and learned how to speak up. He was the right person for me to marry because I may not have learned it in any other way.” “My parents were abusive, and I learned how to be independent and take care of myself at a very young age. I learned how to be resourceful.” What about, “My husband had an affair and I learned that my opinion matters. I learned to use my voice. It changed our marriage forever for me to start telling the truth. And I don’t think I ever would have if he didn’t have that affair.” Those are just examples.
But can you see how by shifting the language, instead of feeling like it’s just the end of the story, that’s it, the end, I’m stuck here, it’s just rephrased in a way that brings life, hope and forward motion to the same circumstance. So I want to tell you about my story. Before I do that though, I want to talk a little bit about the future. I encourage spending time with your future self every single day. What does that even mean? Your future is your wisest version of you. Our future is created in our minds when we spend time with the part of our brain that sets goals, that dreams, that thinks of the things that we want, the things that matter to us, that’s from our highest self. That’s where we receive personal revelation. That’s where we hear God. That future self you knows what’s going on. She knows what you’re capable of. She knows what potential you have. She knows what dreams you have and encourages you to go after them.
I encourage you to spend time with her every day by feeling, by thinking about her, by thinking about what kind of life you want, what it looks like, visualizing it, picturing it. Who are you in that future self instead of going to the past and getting all of your information there. Spend time with your future. Spend time with future you. She has a lot to tell you. So I’m going to tell you about the story that I carried around for years and years. I would probably title this story “I’ll always be second best”. That’s the title of the story that I lived by for a long time. Do you have a title to yours? What is it right now? What would be the title to your book? So for me, this was the story that I carried around for 40 years. It’s a pretty painful one.
My dad died in a plane crash when I was two days old. My mom was left a widow with three little kids. I was the youngest. I was born premature. I had health issues. My dad was flying a plane. He went down to the Missouri River and he died. My mom wanted to have a dad for her children, married a man who on paper looked great, but he was not great. He was actually very mean. They were married for three years, and fortunately, my mom got out of that marriage when I was five years old. When I was almost seven, my mom got remarried to a man who had two daughters. So we had five. There were five children, and then they had two more kids. My two little brothers. We moved a lot growing up. A lot. Now, as a young girl, for whatever reason, the story that I grabbed onto is that I must not be quite lovable enough or I would have a dad who was nice to me.
I would have a dad who adored me, and I would see other dads and how they treated their daughters, and wonder why I didn’t have that. Now, my dad now who became my dad just shy of my seventh birthday, I have a great relationship with him now, but it was kind of rough for several years in there as we learned how to navigate becoming a blended family, and I did not necessarily feel safe in that relationship. It just fed into that story that I wasn’t quite lovable enough. Fast forward to marriage. Right out the gate, I noticed that there were things that were a little off, and it just confirmed in my mind that I wasn’t quite lovable enough or I wouldn’t be treated in some of the ways that I was out the gate.
I had just evidence of it. I figured that that’s the best I could ask for, that because I was just not quite enough or quite good enough or quite lovable enough, that that was just what I should expect, that I should just deal with it. And then over the years, as things got worse, and I did end that. But then fast forward a couple more years, I married a widower whose first wife died of cancer. And what happens sometimes when people pass away is they’re put on a pedestal of perfection. And that is something that happened here where I moved to a small community and everyone wanted to tell me about her and how amazing she was and how wonderful she was. And even with my husband, I felt like I wasn’t maybe quite lovable enough to be front and center. And I thought that’s just the way it was going to be, because that was my role after all, to not be quite good enough. And so I mercilessly compared myself to her.
And of course, I fell short every time, and it was really, really painful. And then I started to learn about the work that I do now. I started to learn about managing your mind and changing your story. My story is so different now. I’ll tell you my story now. Now my story is that from the very beginning of my life, I have been uniquely prepared to do exactly what I’m doing now. From the beginning of my life, I learned that I was strong. I learned to be independent. I learned to have courage. I learned to trust myself. I learned to stand up for myself when I needed to. I have been given opportunities in my life to grow, to see what I’m made of. And now I have so much experience behind me that who better than me to do what I’m doing as a coach, as a mom to 11, as a wife to a widower. I’m the perfect wife for a widower because I have so much experience with blended families, with death, with all of the things that I need to be successful in this role now.
I have all the experience I do to help the women that I help now. I’ve been prepared for it my entire life because it mattered, and it was important that I get the education that I needed to do what I’m doing now. Now that story is made up as well. The first one is, the second one is, but which one do you think feels better? The first one feels terrible. I know it so well. It makes me feel like shrinking and hiding. The second story feels empowering. The second story makes me stand up a little bit taller and go, “I matter. My time here matters. I have work to do. My experience matters. None of it was accidental. It was always going to happen the way that it did. Wow. I must be really loved to have such purpose, to be allowed to experience the things that I’ve experienced so I can go help other people.” Now, I encourage you to look at the story that you’re telling. What’s the story you’re telling about yourself?
What’s the story you’re telling about your spouse or your ex or whichever situation you find yourself in? And is it serving you? You can keep it if you like or you can change it up. I suggest looking to the future and seeing what the wisest version of yourself has to tell you about your life. She’s got some wisdom. What you’re experiencing now is exactly what you need to experience. You get to decide why. You get to find the purpose in it. It is not accidental. It was always going to happen this way. How are you going to use it? What story are you going to tell about the time that you’re currently living in? There is power there. There is a story for you to tell. What’s it going to be? You have all the power to make a story that lifts you up, that strengthens you, and that helps you stand up as your own hero and your own story. Go find it. That’s all I’ve got for you today. I hope you have a great weekend. Take care, and I’ll see you next time. Bye-bye.
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly email. You can subscribe at andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. Again, it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.