THE BLOG
01/13/2015 12:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ghosts of New Years Past, Present and Future

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The bad news is that time flies. The good news is you're the pilot.
Michael Altshuler

Have you ever heard of the Ghost of New Years Past?

Me neither. But I think Dickens' old story, A Christmas Carol, is a good analogy of how too many of us run our lives:

We remember who we've been in the past, act it out again in the present, then project it into the future.

Then, when we're reflecting on our lives and getting ready to set our goals for the new year, we're totally surprised that we seem to be in the exact same spot as last year! We've got the same problems and the same unfulfilled desires. Our careers are still stuck, our relationships aren't more satisfying and that extra weight still bulges around our middle--and maybe even bulges more!

We don't see different results in our lives because we remain the same person who created the old results.

We're still the guy who doesn't like to get out of bed to exercise or the gal who doesn't focus on the job. We're still that 5-year-old who was afraid to speak up or the 7-year-old who couldn't maneuver on the monkey bars.

We take who we have been and slap that person into our present, yet hope to achieve different results!

Ain't gonna happen.

Our Ghost of New Years' Past is based on the decisions, memories and beliefs held in the subconscious. The job of the subconscious is first and foremost to ensure our survival. So from birth, it processed our experiences, sorted memories, created beliefs and made decisions--all with the purpose of protecting us from harm.

Sometimes, we aren't even aware that we've created these beliefs and decisions. But they are wired into our very cells and determine our actions and reactions. The problem is, that beliefs and decisions that seemed to work in the past don't necessarily serve us in the present.

Think about it: If Ebenezer Scrooge had remained the grumpy old coot from his past and present, would his future have looked any different? Nope. And neither will yours.

Now not all of us have the benefit of terrifying ghostly visitors to scare the heck out of us to get us to change. Fortunately, you have other options. The Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) I teach has several powerful techniques to help you be the person who gets the results you desire.

Here are some tips from NLP to get you started:

1. Reframe your memories. This basically means to see your past experience in a different way. You tell yourself a different story about what that past experience meant.

For example, what if you remember that the teacher never called on you in class no matter how many times you raised your hand? When you think about that, you conclude that "She didn't think I was smart enough to answer." And if she didn't think you were smart, then you probably aren't!

But what if that teacher had really been thinking, "Wow! That kid is smart, he might blow the other kids away!" Can you feel the difference in this "reframe?" Try it on your own memories.

2. Rewrite your memories. This is similar to reframing but in this case you reconstruct the memory itself.

In truth, most of our memories never really happened the way we remember them. Have you ever exchanged memories with old childhood friends or siblings? And have you noticed how differently you all recall them?

To rewrite a memory, start with the scene as you remember it. Take that example of the kid in the classroom raising his hand but not getting called on. To change it up, you could have the teacher call on him every time. You could have the other kids applaud when he raises his hand. Or you could have the kid leap up on his desk and demand to be called on. Play this new memory over and over in your mind until it becomes as "real" as the old one.

3. Model an expert. This means that you observe someone who is achieving the results you desire and model yourself after them. It's not just about mimicking that person, but actually stepping into their shoes and being them.

For example, if your goal is to have a stronger relationship with your partner, find couples that have the kind of relationship you'd like. Notice how they talk to one another and how they talk about one another. Pay attention to their physical touch, tone of voice, facial expressions and the energy they express to one another. How do they spend their time together and apart?

What could you incorporate into your own relationship? How could you be different with your partner to achieve different results?

We all want to achieve our goals, and we deserve to! But as Henry David Thoreau wrote long ago:

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

Mahalo

Dr.Matt.

Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership, where students learn Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna and Hypnosis. To learn more about NLP click here to take our free NLP E-Course.