Is It Possible to Change the Past?
In each person’s life story are unchangeable elements. Past events become part of the story of a person’s life, and there are no time machines for returning to a moment that is long gone. Most people would say it is not possible to change the past. However, everyone of us has the power to change the way the past lives within us and to alter the story we tell about our experiences. Doing so can may change our lives going forward.
In my work as a Jungian analyst and shamanic practitioner, I have often helped cancer patients to change the way they relate to their disease. Some choose to explore the experience of having cancer to see if there are lessons to be learned and personal growth that can occur.
My wife, Patricia Greer, psychotherapist and Jungian analyst undertook such an exploration of her experience of breast cancer in her book, Breast Cancer: A Soul Journey, which has just been released as an audiobook and is available through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Every cancer patient will have a different story of how she experiences and relates to her disease. Breast Cancer honestly portrays the shock of diagnosis, the fear of facing one’s mortality, and the emotions that arise when grappling with the uncertainty of what comes next. Patricia’s experience became a story of a soul’s journey, of reconnecting with Spirit to discover a deeper sense of meaning and purpose and authenticity.
I believe that right-brain-hemisphere techniques such as working with images, analyzing dreams, writing poetry, and having dialogs with inner figures can all help to access wisdom from the unconscious and lead to healing in different ways. Patricia shares her own experiences of using these techniques to engage her serious illness and begin to write and live according to a new story, one that involved spiritual and psychological growth. While she could not change the fact that she had breast cancer, her experience of dealing with the disease was different than it would have been had she not worked with her unconscious to gain helpful insights for growth. She shares her exploration with the hope that it may help others to reflect on their experiences and find meaning and insights from understanding illness as a source of wisdom.
Breast Cancer: A Soul Journey reminds us that we are the storytellers of our lives and can choose to engage our experiences differently—and that doing so might lead to different outcomes than the ones we expect and/or fear.
Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD, is a retired clinical psychologist and Jungian analyst, a businessman, and a shamanic practitioner, author, and philanthropist funding over 60 charities and more than 850 past and current Greer Scholars. He has taught at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and been on staff at the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being.