Most of our problems are created because we're trying to change something about our past. We cause ourselves so much unnecessary stress and anxiety because we are constantly ruminating about past …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, running coach and mindset expert. I believe mindset is the most powerful and most underrated tool you have as a runner. So I’ve devoted my life to helping runners like you develop the mindset you need to fuel your inner fire and become the badass runner you were meant to be. This is The Running Mind podcast.
Hey there, and welcome to The Running Mind podcast. My name is Patrick McGilvray. And I’m your host, and I’m the life coach for runners, I help you get better results from your running and from your life in general. And I’m really excited about an upcoming event I’m doing. It’s a three day challenge called How To Solve Any Problem.
And it’s totally free, you’re going to learn how to solve literally any problem that’s on your mind, big or small, earth shattering or just annoying. It might be something from your past that keeps coming up or something that’s just bugging the crap out of you right now. It couldn’t be running related or not.
Here’s the thing, you don’t have to keep struggling with those same old problems, you can end the anxiety and start feeling excited about things in your life. Again, whatever it is that you’re struggling with, just know that there is a solution. And I’ll show you exactly how to do it. This is going to be a fun, interactive challenge. And it all starts on Monday, March 9 2020.
I’ll be holding class in a private Facebook group, but you have to sign up in order to get in. Just go to innerfiretribe.com/challenge to save your spot. You’re gonna get live coaching and training with me, your master life and success coach. And you can ask me anything I know, there’s probably something on your mind right now that you want help with. And you’re like, I would love to ask Patrick this question.
Well, guess what? You can do it, I’d be happy to help you with that. You can also access the live trainings after the fact. So you don’t have to actually be in the live group and listen to the live trainings, you can go back and listen to them afterwards. But the most benefit you’re gonna get out of it is if you participate in the live trainings, okay.
And I’m calling this a challenge, because here’s the fact most people do not take action. Most people want something to change in their life, but they’re not willing to do anything different. Think about that. It’s crazy. So my challenge for you is to show up and do the work. Do it for yourself. Because you know what, you deserve this.
You deserve to be happy. You deserve to have more confidence, you deserve to have inner peace. You deserve to feel good about yourself for a change. So when you learn how to solve any problem that you may be experiencing now or in the future, you get to have all of that. Just go to innerfiretribe.com/challenge to sign up. I can’t wait to see you there. It’s gonna be so much fun.
All right, cool. Onto today’s topic, how to change your past. Now that title, I hope it grabbed your attention. Because we’re going to get into this today. One of the biggest ways that I see people get stuck and feel like they’re stuck is they ruminate about the past. They keep thinking about past events over and over and over again. Things that they did, things that they wish they had done, things they wish they had done differently. These could be past experiences, past events, it could be past heartaches, it could be people who have hurt us in the past, how we’ve hurt others failures, we’ve made mistakes we’ve made. The list goes on and on and on.
And we think about these events, and we replay them over and over and over and over again. And if this is you, if this sounds like you, welcome to the human race. We all do this. It’s very, very common. It’s part of the human experience. You know, we’ve evolved to learn from our mistakes, you know, we’ve evolved to learn that if we touch fire, it will burn us or stay away from that one animal because it will eat you or Hey, Jim, don’t eat those berries. You know, like we learn from the past and it’s good that we’ve evolved to learn from the past.
And you know, learning from the past and keeping those memories in our subconscious minds. It serves a purpose: it has helped us to survive as a species. So that’s all good. The problem, though, is that today, it’s really not necessary to keep ruminating about every past event that has ever happened to us in order to survive. We still do it though.
And here’s a few things that happen to us when we keep ruminating on the past. And we keep stewing about past events. Subconsciously, we’re reliving that event over and over and over again in our imagination. And here’s something interesting about the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what’s real, and what’s imagined. So when we really relive a past event in our imagination, our subconscious mind is like, oh, yeah, hey, here we are, again, let’s get the body all stressed out, let’s, let’s feel those feelings again, let’s feel the guilt and the sadness and that frustration.
And what happens is, we feel all those old feelings again, we feel the old guilt, or the shame or the disappointment, we feel the worthlessness that we felt five years ago, or, you know, five days ago, or 30 years ago, we feel it as if it’s happening now, we are really good at using our imagination to fill ourselves with stress and anxiety. And we do this all the time, we beat ourselves up over and over again. This does not sound good.
I’m going to say that most of our problems are created because we’re trying to change something about the past, we’re resisting the past in some way. Most of our problems are created because there’s something about our past that we are in conflict with, and that we’re resisting. Most people cause themselves so much unnecessary stress and anxiety because they’re trying to change something about their past or they wish their past had been different.
If only I had done this things would be different. If only I had said this, finally, I hadn’t said that. And if you take this one step further, I say that most of our problems are created by us because we are just resisting, not just the past, but we’re resisting what is. We’re actually resisting the way things are. You know, if my wife would only talk to me this way, if my boss would only treat me like this, if only I trained harder for that last marathon.
Whatever it is we’re doing, we are resisting what is we’re resisting, accepting the way things are? Or the way things were the way things happened? Because what’s happened in the past has happened. And it’s over and done with. Okay, how well does it usually work for you? When you try to change something that’s outside of yourself, really, it doesn’t work ever. And your past is part of that; it’s no longer inside you. It’s no longer a part of who you are. It’s way in the past, it’s over and done with history.
You cannot change what’s happened in the past. And you cannot change most of what’s happening around you right now in the present. You know, I have no control over what the driver in front of me does on the highway. I have no control over what people think about me or say about me.
I have no control over how fast I ran my last race because it’s out of my hands now. Okay, during my last marathon, if I didn’t like my time, I had control over that while I was in that moment. But as soon as that moment is over the control I have over that is gone. It does me no good to keep thinking about oh, I should have changed my training or you know, done my nutrition differently, or if only I’d done you know, we can go on and on and on.
And what happens is we put ourselves into that state of stress. So you’re probably thinking like, Oh, I thought you said this podcast was titled How To Change Your Past and you just said you can’t change the past, what the hell, Patrick? Stick with me here. But you probably already knew that you can’t change the past right? So just be honest, though, you can own that one right now. Okay.
But think about this: when you think about the past, where does that live? It lives in your imagination. Everything that’s ever happened in the past exists in our mind. You know, it lives and breathes in our thoughts about it. And not only in our conscious mind, but in our subconscious mind.
So we can’t go back in time to physically change the events of the past. But here’s what we can do. We can change what they mean to us today, we can change how those past events affect us today. We can change how we think about those events today. So we go back to the past in our minds all the time. But what do we do so we can change the way we think about the past today?
In fact, there are no past thoughts. There are no there’s no past thinking anything you’re thinking about today, is current thinking. If you’re thinking a thought right now, even though it’s a thought about the past, it’s current thinking, it’s a current thought about a past experience.
Okay, so it’s not like, oh, these thoughts from my past keep coming up. No, this is you thinking about that today. Okay. So you might have a thought that you continue to think over and over and over again for years and decades even. But if it’s on your mind, right now, it’s a current thought.
So even though, you know, I had some friends that treated me like crap in, you know, seventh grade, I can still, I can go back to that moment right now and feel hurt all over again, if I choose to. Here’s another example. A few years ago, I was doing this 50k trail series, the Ohio River Road Runners 200k No Way series.
And here’s the deal, you are supposed to complete 4 50ks over one season over one summer. And I had done three of them. So I just needed to finish that last one. So we start the race. And the race is called Broken Toe 50k. And the name of this race is no joke, because there are lots of routes, lots of rocks, lots of people tripping and falling. Well, I tripped and fell at like mile one, we started on like a gravel pathway.
And then we headed into the trail into a single track trail. And as soon as I got onto the trail, I maybe went and 50 feet tripped, fell and bloodied up my knee. My knee was jacked up, okay, it got swollen. And it was one of those things where I’m like, I’m gonna run it off. Well, I’m gonna walk it off. So I started walking.
And then I was like, I don’t know about this. And I could run a little bit. And eventually I got to the point where I could run and it was okay, it still hurt, but it was okay. Well, it kept getting like more and more swollen as the race went on. And it kept getting more and more painful. And finally, I had, I got to a point at like, mile 21, where I could barely bend my leg anymore. And I had like four or five miles to go. So I had to walk like five miles back to the aid station.
So I got to mile 26. And I had to stop. I couldn’t bend my leg. And I was in so much pain. Walking was terribly painful. I had to stop because it was the only race I’ve ever DNF. And I go back to that over and over again. Like, what if I didn’t trip? What if I had stepped two inches to the left? What if I, you know, what if I wasn’t as tired? Maybe I know, what if I had gotten more sleep the night before? What if I had started a little bit slower?
Like I can drive myself crazy thinking about what could have been. And in my mind I’m like, trying to resist what I really wanted to do that 200k thing, you know, just for the sheer fact of like, being able to say I did it, and I couldn’t eke it out, you know what I mean? And I keep trying to change that. But no matter what I do, or how I think about it, the results are never going to change. They’re exactly the same. I did not finish that race. I did not get to the 200k.
So when I think about it, I keep feeling disappointed. I keep feeling frustrated. I keep feeling bummed out. I feel like a failure. Okay. So I think these thoughts and this is years later, by the way, and when I think those thoughts, in the moment I get frustrated all over again, I feel bummed out all over again. And I feel like a failure all over again.
Why am I feeling like a failure today over some stupid trail race that I did a bunch of years ago? It’s crazy, right? Isn’t this crazy thinking? I know, you’re saying, Patrick, that is crazy thinking, but you do it and we do it all the time. Substitute this trail race for any other experience that, you know, causes you to feel pain today.
So, listen, if you’re suffering, the suffering that you experience inside, it’s almost all self induced, because we are incessantly trying to change the past. And when we can’t, we’re in conflict, we’re in turmoil, there’s inner conflict, internal turmoil, and it produces all these unwanted emotions. And if you’ve been listening to the podcast, I talk about problems, the problems we have are actually just unwanted emotions. We don’t want to feel those feelings.
You know, if we feel feelings of like joy and happiness, we’re like, cool, I’m good with that. But if there’s feelings of like, shame and guilt, or unworthiness, then we don’t want to feel those. And so we label that as being a problem. But what happens is, we keep looping through the trying to change the past, we keep looping through that, and we stay stuck, we stay in conflict, we stay in turmoil.
And we think, well, that’s just the way it is. There’s nothing I can do about that. This is just how I am, this is how I’m wired. I’ve heard people say that I’m just wired that way. It’s not true. You know, you may have some habits about how you think and how you feel. But you know, you’re not necessarily wired that way. Like you can, you can rewire, you can reprogram your mind and your subconscious mind, especially.
So I think that for most of us, a shift in our thinking is all we need to do to change the way we feel about some past events. Okay, it’s very powerful. Now, there may be some past events that are traumatic, you know, if you’ve, if you’ve gone through some certain kinds of traumas, too. Capital T traumas, you know, professional help may be required for that.
But for most of us, I think just shifting our thinking a little bit, can work wonders. So here’s the part you’ve been waiting for: how to change your past. So this is a writing exercise, most of the work that I do with my clients is writing, you know, we talk through a lot of stuff. But writing is so important when you write by hand and not typing into a computer, but when you sit down with a notebook, and you write by hand, it ingrains the ideas and the words and the thoughts and the feelings that ingrain them into your subconscious mind.
And you can look back over the things that you’re that you’ve written down, and you can see, these things will pop out at you. Whereas if you’re just thinking about this stuff, those thoughts will come and go, like clouds floating across the sky, they come in, they go, and then they’re gone. You want to write this stuff down.
Okay, so any of the work that we do, typically, we’re writing by hand, okay, you’ll want to reference it to you’ll want to go back and look through it. So this is a writing exercise. And here give yourself the gift of time to do this work. It may seem simple, it may seem like oh, Patrick, this seems pretty simple, but it is life changing work. Okay. It’s very powerful stuff.
And here’s how you do it. You get quiet, maybe even close your eyes. And I want you to think about that past event. If you’re driving right now, do not close your eyes. But think about that past event. Go back there now, get into it. What do you see? What do you hear? And especially like, what do you feel? And it may feel uncomfortable, but get into it. You’re going to feel those old feelings right now. And if you do, that’s good. That means if you feel those feelings right now, that’s good, because it means it’s all in your head. Okay? The actual event is not happening right now. Yet you are feeling those same exact feelings. So it’s all in your mind.
So write down those feelings, those one word emotional feelings, like I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m guilty, I’m hurt. I’m worthless. I feel enraged. Whatever it is. This is so important that you write down the feelings you’re feeling and you get in touch with whatever it is you’re feeling right here in this moment. Okay, so write down those feelings.
And then next, just do a complete thought download of everything you’re thinking about that past event, okay? Just get it all down. Just don’t censor it, don’t leave anything out, just dump it all out on the page. And it should be ugly, it should be petty, it may sound ridiculous, whatever it is, it does not matter. Write down all those crazy, obscure thoughts, whatever it is, wherever you’re thinking about that event, just write it all down.
And once you’ve got it down on paper, and this is why it’s so important to write it down, you’re going to go through all those thoughts that you’ve been thinking about that event, and you’re going to see if you can identify a few thoughts that are causing those unwanted feelings, circling them, write them on a separate sheet, whatever, but underlying them, right, you know, capture a few of those thoughts that are causing those feelings.
And you’ll know it because when you start reading through all your thoughts, you’ll, a couple of those thoughts, as you read them are going to stir up some emotional response inside you, you’ll get that tingling sensation inside that vibration inside your body. That’s a feeling that’s an emotion, that tingling sensation, that’s your emotions.
Okay, so you’re gonna identify a couple of the thoughts that are causing those feelings, okay. And now, for each of those thoughts that you’ve identified, the ones that are causing you to feel something you don’t want to feel. Answering this question is a very, very powerful question. Who am I, without this thought? Who am I? If I didn’t have this thought, if I didn’t think this thought, if this thought were gone, if I no longer believed this thought to be true, who would I be? Pow.
That is a powerful, powerful question. To go back to that past event again. Now, without that thought, how does it feel different? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel now? What do you do? How do you act? How are you showing up for others and for yourself? And what do you believe about yourself?
Now, if you do this work, if you really spend time to go back to your past, without the thoughts that are causing you to suffer internally, you can change the past, the entire meaning of that event changes, the emotional charge around that event melts away the unwanted feelings, they’re suddenly miraculously gone. So it may take a little bit of time to develop some new thoughts and feelings about your past. And this is why we write these things down.
And we write down the ways we want to think, feel and act instead. So that we can then read them every day, we want to ingrain those new thoughts into our subconscious, so they become a habit. And when we do this, we’re actually creating new neural pathways in our subconscious mind. We can actually reprogram our subconscious to believe new beliefs about that event, and about ourselves. We can reprogram our subconscious to believe new beliefs about ourselves and about that past event. And so in your mind, you have effectively changed the past.
I really encourage you to do this exercise. It is amazing and powerful. Okay, so think about that past event, that one thing that’s causing you that internal turmoil, that conflict, do the work around it. I think you’re going to be amazed. And don’t forget to sign up for my upcoming three day challenge on how to solve any problem.
And listen, people who take action, people who do the work, those are the people who actually get results, people that listen to the podcast or show up in a training like this. And they just kind of show up and hang out. They might get something out of it. But I’m calling this a challenge because most people will not take action, will not take action.
And I’m putting this out there because I want to challenge you, my runners, my people, the people who love challenges. I want to challenge you to show up and do the work on yourself. It’s not hard work. It’s not like running back to back 20 milers, you’ve done way harder things and honestly this requires you to do some thinking and some writing and to be open to changing the way you’ve been doing things.
So it’s like three days of mindset training, it’s totally free. There’s nothing to lose here at all. The worst thing that could happen is maybe you learn a little bit more about yourself. You know, maybe you feel a little bit better about yourself. Just go to innerfiretribe.com/challenge and sign up. And as always, I want you to reach out to me with questions or comments, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear what you think about this topic. I’d actually love to hear one takeaway that you got out of this today. You can hit me up on the socials @pmcgilvrayatinnerfiretribe. I hope you all have an amazing day much love to each and every one of you, my runners.
Did you know that most runners fail to reach their goals? It’s not because of lack of training, lack of desire, whether it’s running faster or running farther, I believe most runners just haven’t developed the mental toughness they need to get them across the finish line. That’s why I created a step by step training called How to Build Mental Toughness and Become A Badass Runner. I want to show you how to train your mind so you can tough it out when the going gets tough. And the best part, this comprehensive training is yours absolutely free. To get it right now just go to innerfiretribe.com/badass and get started today.