~ Article written by Shawn Dwyer and L. Michael Hall PhD ~

The Concepts of Time

To get over the past, you need to understand about the concept that we call “time”-what it is, what it is not, what you are actually referring to when you speak about the past (or the future). Since you cannot see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, or smell it-the “time” that you speak of is not empirical. It is not part of sensory reality. It exists not in the external world, but in the internal world. It is an idea-a concept, an understanding.

Events In Time

What then do we have “out there” in the external world that we use to construct the idea of time? Answer: Events. To have “time” you have to have events and you have to compare events. That’s what the clock does.
The clock compares the revolving of planet earth in relationship to the sun.
As the planet faces the sun, we call that “day” time and when it turns away from the sun, we have “night” time. By dividing that event then into hours and minutes and seconds, we end up with what we usually mean by “time.”

Conceptually, time arises in each of our minds as we compare events.

That gives us the three time zones (past events, current events, and future events). So what is “the past?” It is the events (activities, actions, experiences) that have already occurred. You keep them by remembering them.
And to “hold them in mind” or memory-you give them lots of meanings.
Conversely, when you remove meaning so they don’t hold any significance to you, when you do not invest significance into them, then you won’t remember them. They will pass on (out of your memory).They will stop affecting you.
This now gives you yet another way to get over the past-namely, change the meanings. If it remains a living part of your semantic network today because of how you invest meaning in it, then de-investing meaning in that event or experience will free you from it. This is easier said than done because de-investing means letting go, releasing, forgiving, etc.


Now one way you keep things in mind is to use the previous events as references. That is, you refer to a previous activity or experience in order to understand current activities that are similar or that remind you of the former. This process describes how you understand anything. You establish a reference, a frame-of-reference, as a template for understanding. We ask, “What are you referring to?” Think about “insult” and you understand that term by relating it to previous references. So with all words.


Past references are good when you use them for resourceful learning, for finding resources for current challenges, and for feeling good. They are not so good or valuable for feeling bad again, for re-traumatizing, for keeping resentments, for feeling bitter, etc. Now when it comes to getting over the past, it’s essential that you make sure that you have permission to do that.


Another process is establishing a strong robust sense of now, that is, of today. This is what Perls was doing with his mantra statements: “Lose your mind and come to your sense; be here now.” What the losing of the mind (the meta-mind) does is break the old trances of the past and their post-hypnotic suggestions. The stronger your grasp is on today, on the present, the less of a hold the past will have upon you.

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.

Finally, there’s that statement from Richard Bandler, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” The reason that you can still have “a happy childhood” is because you can recode your past. You can “change your personal history” to such an extent that you can find resources today about healthy parenting and induce yourself into that story and make it yours.
You can use your imagination, invent an imaginary guided tour to a happy and healthy childhood and experience in your mind what you did not actually have. Doing that will give you the references that you did not have in actual history, but now you have in memory.

Past Learnings

Then, as you get over the past, you can begin to use your past for more resource things. You can use your past for learning, for finding resources and having useful references, and for feeling good (nostalgia). There is simply no reason or valid use of using your past to feel bad. Wasn’t once enough? And the purpose of remembering a negative event is to learn from it, not to re-experience it. So to “get over the past”-change your code of the past, especially of those referent events that you have given too much meaning to.
Use the NLP Patterns – Change Personal History; Decision Destroyer.
For time-line patterns – See Adventures in Time Lines (1997).
and my favourite is Pure Potentiality

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