Trying to Change the Past

Trying to change the past

This summer I got COVID-19. During my downtime, I watched the 80s show “Quantum Leap.” In the show, a time traveler leaps into other people’s lives with the knowledge to change their future. There is a reboot now on Peacock.

While I was watching it, I wondered why time travel is a popular storyline. (Think “Back to the Future.”)

I think it triggers our need for control. We think about how small moments have an impact on the past, present and future.  

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could selectively change events to our favor? When we dream of it, we are holding on to the past and our regrets.

Ever heard anybody say: “If I knew then what I know now, then things would be different”?

Thanks, Captain Obvious. 

Wishing for the past to change means we are stuck. We’re looking back and avoiding the future and the now. We’re hoping to avoid the difficulty of our present, and we’re afraid that the event we are thinking about will define us forever. 

If you know me well, you know I had a tough time 5 years ago. I was suffering from PTSD from a bike accident, and a cancer scare with my wife. It sucked. I was miserable. I had a hard time keeping it contained.

One different small decision could have avoided the triggering event. At first, I kept asking myself: 

Why did you do that? 

What if I had…, then… 

What if I do ___ then I can make all the uncomfortable feelings go away.  

I wouldn’t change what happened. It was the worst and best. I learned so much about myself and my relationship to the world. I saw my own mental toughness myths and their impact.  

It took me a while to come to some kind of acceptance of it all. If you find yourself obsessing over what you should have done, didn’t do, or could have done, then you may want to ask yourself what you are having trouble accepting. Instead, figure out what you can do to accept it and make the best of the situation — which is the inspiration for these videos.    

I hope that what I know now may help you to be ready for when you hit adversity. Here’s a way to make an impact. Prioritize sharing what you have learned without sounding like you know it all. When you help others, you help yourself.  

If you want to learn more about this concept, watch this TED Talk By Daniel Goldstein.