Discover more from Headspace by Christian Ray Flores
How to turn your negative past experiences into an exponentially better future
This post comes with a challenge (should you choose to accept it) and a guest spot video on the Mindset & Self-Mastery Show, where I unpack how the negative past can become an unfair advantage in life. I share a story I've never shared before, involving an incident with a member of the Russian mafia and some other fun stuff.
It started with the host, Nik McGowan, asking me to share something weird about me most people don’t know about. Watch the episode if this intrigues you.
Back to the post and the challenge.
Understanding trauma is extraordinarily important, and we've become increasingly adept at this. In its more extreme forms, this is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. What we have yet to become skilled at is mastering the tools for another well-documented phenomenon known as Post-Traumatic Growth or PTG, also called Anti-Fragility.
What see as a result is that we have an extremely fragile generation shaping our culture.
This was brought to my attention during an interview with Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD, one of the top experts in the world in human flourishing. Tal is a remarkable human being, a lecturer at Harvard, and the author of several best-selling books. During my interview with him on Headspace, Tal mentioned to me that while lecturing to first-year psychology students at Harvard, only around 5% were aware of PTG, while most knew about PTSD.
I think this is significant. If our cultural baseline is hyper-aware of the effect of trauma (a good thing) and under-aware of the effect of Post-Traumatic Growth (a glaring cultural weakness), those who master and implement this in real life have an unfair advantage. And I love unfair advantages.
PTG, or Anti-fragility, is a core element in my Xponential Life coaching program because, for many years now, I've enjoyed this unfair advantage to have more impact, fulfillment, and joy than I thought possible. So, I teach others how to renew the past, reshape the present, and create an exponentially better future.
Our past is fixed and unchangeable regarding the events that happened, but it's remarkably pliable in the details of our memories. Two people present at the same time, in the same place, can often remember the same event differently. The same person will often reinterpret the memory of the same events with time. Tons of research has been done on this phenomenon. If you want to go down this particular rabbit hole, I recommend "Stumbling on Happiness" by Daniel Gilbert - a mind-bending and witty insight into how we interpret reality.
If you want to take this opportunity for a test drive, I'll share a page from the XL playbook and give you this challenge.
Should you choose to accept it, I would love to hear about your experience of it. Just send me a note on my website or DM me on any social media I am on.
Here it is:
Block off 30-45 minutes and write your story with three focal points. Eliminate distractions; don't overthink it. Do this as a stream of consciousness.
Divide a piece of paper into three sections. Write this out as a narrative or in bullet points.
1. What are you passionate about in the present - what activities and relationships are sources of joy and satisfaction?
2. What have you overcome in the past - suffering, obstacles, traumatic experiences that shaped you?
3. What are your aspirations for the future - dreams and plans that inspire and motivate you?
Divide a second piece of paper into four sections. Write this out as a narrative or in bullet points.
1. What are current weaknesses, born in the past and still affecting you in the present?
2. What can you do to turn these weaknesses into strengths going forward?
3. What current strengths were born in the past and are helping you in the present?
4. What can you do to enhance and better use these strengths to serve others?
Read this out loud to yourself and a person you're close to. Ask that person to give you sincere and thoughtful feedback. Does framing your past this way help you reinterpret its meaning? Do you see areas of more clarity, and do emotions associated with the past change?
Write this out in free form on a third page. How can this "new past" change your present? Now, imagine how it can reshape your future.
If this resonates with you, I think you’ll enjoy some of the insights on the Mindset & Self-Master Show.