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Timelines as a Therapeutic Instrument
Change For Good,® Inc.
In our own experiences during the course of our life, we reference time as a measurement of how close or far something is from our present moment awareness. We speak of the “dim” or “distance” past, as well as a “bright” future, or the phrase “in looking back” or “it seems like time was standing still.” However, in whatever way time actually unfolds, it seems to each of us that it has some spatial or directional flow. For example, in thinking about the day of the week we currently are in, often we will think of Mondays as a place in our minds off to the left of our imagination and Fridays further down to the right and Saturdays and Sundays to be in their own space, somewhere in between or off this linear path, even though a day is really not any different in terms of the sun coming up or going down, a Sunday will often “feel” different than a Monday. It is because of this spatial or linear placement that this shift in awareness can take place. We can also remember what it was like as a child being home from school, knowing that everyone else is in school and it is not after school, and so being in a different place during that period of time feels unnatural or at the very least very different to us.
In our longer view of time, we also will often see our past behind us, but sometimes we will see our past off to the left. When we experience time from left to right, it is referred to as “through time.” The past in “through time” is on the left and our future then off to our right. When we think of our past as behind us and we are seeing our future in front of us, this is referred to as “in time.” While we may use a combination of methods of framing time for various unexplained reasons, it is not important to know which way you engage time, but rather that you do in fact have a way of relating to time.
These “timelines” are not only fascinating, but also extremely important. In my research and experience as a behavior modification specialist, I have found substantial proof that those who have an inability to think positively about their future often see their future in their own timeline as dim or non-existent. Everyone has a timeline relativity view. It is important to know how you see your future and likewise, how you see your past.
If the events in your past have caused you, in your own estimation, great or irreparable harm and it is big and bright and close to you in your timeline, then you will always be literally “looking over your shoulder.”
Can I Change My Timeline?
Timelines were developed during the course of your life to help you understand time. The calendar, the clock and other historical reference guides that society uses have become a framework for the way in which you formulated your view of time. However, this is all relative and can all be changed.
I am drawn back to the story about April Fools Day which dates back in the early French Civilization when the year began in April. The last month of the year was in March and it was decided by the framers of society to change the calendar to make January the first month of the year. This was a very difficult challenge and many people refused to accept this new view of time. For many years, the French argued and debated over the acceptance of December 31st as the last day of the year instead of March 31st. Ultimately, as can be seen by our current calendar, the new way of gauging time changed. However, it was not until people who were chastised for recognizing April 1st as the beginning of the New Year were referenced as “April Fools” that the change really started to take shape. The negative reinforcement of being an “April Fool” became a massive deterrent to those who would not change. We now look at April Fools Day as a day of levity and humor. However for many people in that era of time, it was nothing to laugh about. So if people in this era could change their timeline view of months and years, then you certainly can make the change in your own life.
How to Change Your Own Timeline
Let us assume that we are going to use a change in timeline for the purposes of improving your health. First, make a mental picture of what you would look like in perfect physical health. Imagine it is a picture. Notice the color of your skin, your posture, notice your expression and see if you can make the picture bigger and more vibrant, as if somehow on this picture you can give the impression that health was “beaming” from you. Make sure you are satisfied that this picture shows the look of what you imagine to be really healthy for you.
Associate yourself into the picture. You can do this by either stepping into the image or by drawing the image closer to yourself until it takes over the body, so you are one with this image. Next get a sense of what it feels like to be healthy. How would you breathe? How would you stand? What would it be like to be perfectly healthy? In your mind, stand up and move around with this healthy new you, and get a feeling for what it’s like. How would it sound to be healthy? How would your breathing be? What kinds of things would you say? What does it sound like to be healthy?
When you have found that you’re satisfied with what being healthy means in a full body experience, then label that as “the truly healthy me” and we’re going to use that representation in a few moments.
The next step in the process is to establish how you see time in your own mind. Think of your past and ascertain whether you see your past as behind you or off to your left. It might be best if you closed your eyes and imagined yourself as a child and locate where that is. It might also be behind you and also to your left, but it has some relative spatial location.
Next imagine a thread or string attached to wherever it is bringing you to this point in the present moment. Using that same exact line, extend the line out into the future for some indefinite period of time. The result will be a single line extending from your early past, even back as far as your birth, through present time and to the future, presumably to the end of your life. Imagine that we are going to gauge five years into the future, however long five years seems to you, but pointing it into the correct direction (forward or to the right). Now draw upon your truly “healthy you” image and place it five years into the future. Move it down into the timeline into the future. Begin to associate with that image in the future and make it bigger and make it brighter and imagine that the pathway where you are now and that five-year placement on the timeline scale is illuminated. If you could look at this expansively, you could see that the timeline from where you are now to your past is somewhat dimmer, the string is dimmer.
Now take the truly healthy you and span it ten years into the future. Now take the truly healthy image and place it one year from now. Each time you do this, continue to direct your attention towards the future. Ask yourself, “What steps would I need to take in order to reach that future me?” And maybe when you ask yourself, then add a colon and then put these question marks under it. What is the most important benefit to attaining this future “truly healthy me?” How important is being truly healthy? Am I willing to focus on my “future me”? Now step back into the present you and imagine that this is now your current and dominant view of your health and your future as it relates to your health.
You may want to practice this process a few times. It may also be something that may prove to be useful with respect to other changes you want to make or to rid yourself of old beliefs or feelings that have been lingering in your life. You will find that once you have changed something that was once very close, it is hard to find it bothering you with the same intensity as it once did.
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