Rewrite your past.  Prompt #327

Today’s writing prompt is inspired by something Susan Hagen wrote.

“A seminal moment in my life occurred when I was barely three years old. I remember sitting on the kitchen counter, pouring chocolate chips into Mom’s cookie dough. In a nod to our teamwork, my very pregnant mother said, ‘Two heads are better than one.’

A few months later, she gave birth to twins. All I could see was that they had two heads, and she had told me that ‘two heads are better than one.’ So instead of being happy that I’d gotten a baby sister AND a baby brother, I set myself on a lifelong mission to prove that my one head was as good as their two. That showed up as a double major in college, having two jobs throughout most of my life, and constantly battling an inner voice that said ‘you’re not good enough’ (because I only had one head).

Then I began to rewrite my childhood.

The first thing I did was rewrite that memory with one simple change: as I poured the chocolate chips into the cookie dough, my mother said, ‘I love doing things with you. You are so smart and helpful. You will make a great big sister.’ And when I wrote it, I felt it. When I read it out loud to my writing circle, it became my truth. And since then, I’ve been remembering more and more of my childhood as being happy.

Your mind doesn’t know the difference between what actually happened and what you imagine.

That’s why this works. Rewriting your story from a different perspective lays down new memories in your brain. When you read that story aloud in a safe, supportive circle of listeners, and we witness it and mirror it back to you, the new story gets installed in your memory and felt in your body as a different, more pleasant experience. You also get to see (and feel) things you couldn’t before. I promise you, there are a lot of surprises. Like compassion. Gratitude. And love.”

Susan Hagen

Suggested Writing Prompt From Marlene

Did a scene from your childhood pop into your head as you read Susan Hagen’s story? If yes, write about what happened as you remember it. Then, write the same story with whatever changes suit you.

If a childhood vision didn’t emerge, recall a time when you felt put down, frowned upon, scowled at, belittled. . . remember a time when you felt bad because of something someone did or said. Write what happened as you remember it. Then rewrite with tweaks that suit you.

Susan Hagen is a past contributor to The Write Spot Blog: “What I Want To Tell You.”

She is co-author of Woman At Ground Zero: Stories of Compassion and Courage

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