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How to Alter Your Past -- Or Your Future -- and Change Your Present

Can you travel back into your past and alter something that will change yourself in the present? And, could you travel into your future and also alter your present? It looks like it might be possible, and it's not science fiction.
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Can you travel back into your past and alter something that will change yourself in the present? And, could you travel into your future and also alter your present? It looks like it might be possible, and it's not science fiction.

Both Einstein and the Eastern mystics have explained that what we call the past, present and future are an illusion: a fabric of space/time in which all exist seamlessly together. In this view:

"... the future and the past are not any different, so there's no reason why you can't have causes from the future just as you have causes from the past," according to David Miller of the Centre for Time at the University of Sydney in Australia, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.

And now, some new thinking and research suggests that, in fact, the present can change the past, with implications for the present, and the future can also change the present. This is known as "retrocausality" and has interesting implications for your life -- at least, metaphorically, aside from the quantum physics it's based on. It's that you might be able to change something about your present life that was originally set in motion in your past. Or, that you might be able to use the future -- even though it hasn't "happened" yet, from your time frame -- to also change something in the present.

In fact, I've found that this perspective is helpful with some psychotherapy patients and well as others who feel stuck and unable to change or grow. I provide some exercises below that might help apply retrocausalty to changing your life. But first, a brief explanation of retrocausality. The experiments underlying it were described a few years ago in The New Scientist by Patrick Barry and circulated widely by the San Francisco Chronicle.

One laser beam was divided in two, so that photons in one beam were entangled with those in the other. One beam passed through a double slit to a photon detector, while the other passed through a lens to a movable detector, but more slowly, and which could sense a photon in two different positions. In one position the movable detector measures each photon as a particle, while in the other it captures it as a wave. Either one forces its twin in the other beam to be measured in the same way, through some form of "communication."

Comparing the beam that wasn't delayed with the one that was showed a shift occurred a few microseconds before the respective choice was made on the delayed photons. Hence, retrocausality. That is, the other beam arrived at its detector before the choice was made on the other one. Here's a longer description of the process, and a visual portrayal of how it works.

In effect, the results of your choice can be seen before you've even made it. So, could you make a different choice in your past and its consequences would now appear in the present? That's the intriguing thought.

Keeping in mind that what we label past, present and future are all one, then an event in either the past or the future could alter the one we call "present." To understand this from another perspective, if someone could view your activity from several lightyears away -- say from the distance of Alpha Centauri -- that person would see your activity that spanned in your Earth-bound existence several decades past and present. In effect, whatever is in store for your life has already occurred. It's visible to the Alpha Centauri observer. That also suggests that you can change it as you go along.

Suppose, then, that you could shift something that occurred or that you experienced in your past, that created your future -- now your present. Could a retroactive shift transform your present? Similarly, if you saw your future, based upon what you're doing right now, and altered that, could it also transform your present? If the latter sounds familiar, think of Michael J. Fox's Back To The Future films.

Want to give it a try? Here are some suggestions:

1. Identify some meaningful turning points or events in your life in which you made a decision or were moved by circumstances to go in one direction vs. another, and that you know forged a path in your life that you wish it hadn't. It might have concerned a feature of your personality that became reinforced through your behavior, associations or personal values, perhaps particular interests that grew, an educational choice you made, or a relationship you began or committed to.

2. Write down what you wish you had known then and how you would have liked to act differently in that turning point. Then, envision inhabiting the person you were at that earlier time. Show your earlier self what he/she needs to know or do, right now, in order to shift direction or change in some way. Do this exercise during meditation or period of quite reflection.

3. Now envision that you've actually become the person who could have emerged from that earlier shift. Imagine incorporating the emotions, state of mind and capacities that would have resulted. Envision that you are that person you might have been. Reflect on how you can integrate the results of the past you've "changed" into your actual life, today. What new intentions or emotions arise within you, and what can you do with them? Remember, your experience of reality is constructed within your head, your consciousness. That's what can change by "changing" your past.

4. Next, flip this around: Teleport yourself into the future that you desire for your life, up ahead. Use your imagination to envision that person you would like to be, in your future, the person who's already there, viewed from that Alpha Centauri location in space/time. From within that person, speak to who you are right now. Tell your present self what you need to alter, change or develop from this immediate moment forward in order to be pulled to that future version of yourself that you want to become. Doing this reminds you of the vast power -- and importance -- of having an ideal for your life: a positive vision of something that constantly beckons you and keeps pulling you along the path toward it, as it tells you that it's already there -- or could be.

Happy travelling...

Douglas LaBier, Ph.D., a business psychologist and psychotherapist, is director of the Center for Progressive Development in Washington, D.C. You may contact him at To learn more about him, click here.

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