There are events in my life I replay in my head at a moment's notice. Sometimes it's great stuff, like my wedding day or the day I met my son, and the way I feel when I'm replaying those moments is hard to articulate - but I feel warm, comfortable, confident.
Then there's the shitty stuff. My brain is filled with memories of embarrassing and sad situations from my life too. Sometimes I replay these and until recently, I never tried to do anything with them. I just watched them play. I'd be in the car, and think about something that happened in 2nd grade, and it would just be overwhelming . Not to the point of pulling over, but something that would absolutely take my energy right out of the present. Haunted me.
But there's something I realized recently and shared:
Expanding on that a bit: the way that I've seen these memories in my head is like I'm watching TV. It's me on the screen, I can see it, but I can't interact with it.
And then I was taught that I can, in fact, interact with it. While I can no longer change what happened - ever - I can always change my relationship in the present with that memory. So the things that I've held with me, the things I deem embarrassing, are chances for me to step in with who I am now and react differently.
Because I'm a geek I like to compare this to time travel. I can go anyplace in the past, and I can't change the events, but I can interact with what's happening knowing that - to quote Faraday from LOST - whatever happened, happened.
So what's in the interaction? Usually me trying to be more compassionate with myself, honestly. Not being so hard on myself or, if I am hard on myself, accepting that and trying to understand why that is. In contrast, I relive the good stuff to just feel good in a moment. Sometimes I need that comfort.
All that said, this idea has significantly changed the way I think about the past. I respect it. The script is written. But I can reinterpret it now, and I bet I'll reinterpret it differently in 5 years, 5 decades (hopefully!), or even 5 minutes. We're always changing, always.