Time travelling (the past)

You’re always in one of these three places

I know what you’re thinking, ‘now he’s going into astrophysics’. But for the purpose of this blog, no, I’m referring to time travel in the sense of how we perceive our lives. How we choose to live our lives on any given day at any particular time.

We live in the present don’t we? Within the last 10 minutes I bet you’ve thought about what you need to do this evening before you get home from work. Or you’ve thought about a conversation you had earlier today and how you could have articulated a certain point better with that person. So this right here, is not living in the present. Your mind is else where and I am almost certain that when you were driving your car through several blocks thinking of these scenarios you had no idea that you passed 11 cars, 1 motor bike and one bright yellow Volkswagen with 17 clowns packed inside!

Okay, so maybe the Volkswagen part didn’t happen, but how would you know? You were too busy time travelling inside your mind thinking about things that are quite out of your control.

So before we continue on, there are 3 areas we all live in at any given time of our collective moments we call life;

  • Past
  • Present
  • Future

Over the next 3 weeks I will cover each topic. Dissecting their contributions to our psyche and how we can use them in a healthy, productive manner.

Living in the past

So living in the past and future are both out of our control as I mentioned. It’s okay to revisit a past experience from time to time for reasons of rejoice, reflection and learning. But when you begin to over stay your welcome in the past you will quickly yet subtly find yourself on the path of depression. We can quite quickly throw a lot of our time into our pasts and find ourselves lost in there, failing to realize all the beauty that continually unfolds itself in the present.

We have an uncanny ability of distorting our pasts also. Whether it be a good, bad or indifferent experience, the longer we think about them, the more our inner voice will alter them. Our inner voice (the one that doesn’t shut up and is constantly giving your life moment to moment commentary) will tell us different versions of our past experiences to confirm an idea that is very current in our mind.

You may have had a great dinner party with several people a month back. But for some reason, your inner voice has been digging up that night over and over, encouraging you to live in that evening constantly. Your inner voice has began to really hone in on a particular comment made by one friend when they mentioned how much they loved the bottle of shiraz you shared during the meal.

Inner voice: How insincere was that comment Jack made last month?!

You: what? when he said ‘ Oh man, this shiraz is the best I’ve had in years! nice choice!’

I V: Yes, that comment. He was totally mocking you. I saw his eyes scanning the table to see if anyone would join him in the mockery.

You: But, that’s not what happened…

I V: I’m telling you I noticed this. You were too busy making sure all the food was on the table. You were distracted. So trust me! He was having you on. You should not be friends with such an arsehole. He’s probably told everyone since that night how crappy your meal was too!

You: Wohhh, slow down! You’re going too fast! None of those things can be true, can they? I mean, He’s a long time friend and I know he enjoys a bottle of red.

I V: Exactly, he enjoys a bottle of red. So much so that he thinks he’s a connoisseur. He was mocking you and you should never trust him. He really doesn’t like you. Trust me, I’m never wrong and I can pick the signals.

You: Hmmm, maybe you’re right. Maybe I’ll just not host a dinner party again. Maybe I’ll not have Jack around for any events too. I know you are looking out for me. And even though I didn’t think that’s how the scene went down. You are always looking out for me.

I V: Absolutely! Good decision. We don’t need him in your life. You need to protect yourself from people like that…

Okay, so inner voice really pulled one over you here!!! Now take a moment to think of how often your inner voice has completely warped any past experience of yours to protect your feelings. But ultimately making you feel worse and even to the point of depression if you are one to indulge your inner voice excessively.

Understanding your inner voice

Our inner voice is only trying to protect us from previous situations in our life happening again. Situations that made us feel upset, angry or scared. So it’s understandable for the inner voice to manifest different stories in our memories, but being understanding does not mean we need to agree with it!

I’ve been working on ignoring my inner voice’s input of late. I don’t try to persevere with it, I don’t negotiate with it, I acknowledge it and then decide that it is not my true feeling and that my inner voice has been wrong more times than I’ve blinked! If I find myself slightly falling into my past too much I will touch an object and ground myself, as I’m touching it I will try to notice how it feels. I will name the colour of it, the texture and then give myself to the moment. Or I might take a few very slow and deep breaths and hone in on an image in my mind as I do this.

I’ve found that the more that I can control the amount of time I allow my inner voice to take me back to my past, the easier it is to live in the moment. Therefore reducing that dreaded feeling of depression that will seep through us if we grant it the time to do so.


Over the week ahead I recommend trying to notice how often you throw your thoughts back to the past. Whether good, bad or indifferent. Just notice them for now, awareness is the first step towards growing into a new version of you.

Remember that your inner voice will distort the past no matter the feelings attached to it.

Closing comments

Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.

Sigmund Freud

Nick Donnellan

Self awareness is progression

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