As I was falling asleep last night, my mind decided that it was an opportune time to travel down memory lane – not to visit the many wonderful memories, but to remind me of my past mistakes – decade by decade, relationship by relationship, financial decision by financial decision. Then this morning, as I was awakening, my mind decided to switch the focus to my bleak future being caused by my current decisions. As a result of this mental past tripping and future tripping, I was cranky and grouchy and not present all morning. Who wouldn’t be cranky when faced with a full color, HD video, closed captioned montage of past and future self-induced bleakness.

I am aware of what’s actually happening. My inner critic, my gremlin, my critical monkey-mind, my reptilian brain knows that I don’t listen as closely during the day when I can consciously shift my thoughts. It knows it can better warn me of the dangers I’m totally unprepared for when I’m sleepy. It was even more determined last night because it knows several things excite me this year. Cathy and I just last night created a powerful vision map for 2013, so the reptilian me wanted to warn me before I could fall asleep.

I decided to review an exercise a former coach assigned me when I had a similar critical “reality” memory from the past. She told me to form a partnership with all of my former selves. The partnership’s mission was to provide me with an exciting, full, vibrant life. I had to determine the qualities all my former selves would bring to the Gary Current partnership. While my 30 year old, my 39 year old, my 54 year old each had seriously negative performance issues that haunted me, they also had much to offer. (I didn’t interview any Gary younger than 30 – all they had to offer was more hair.)

“God Bless the potholes down on memory lane.” Randy Newman

In Heart Aroused, David Whyte says that it’s important to make “sweet honey from our past failures”. My father had a less lyrical phrase with the same message – “pick the corn out of the shit”. So, I reviewed my old notes this morning. When I re-evaluate the characteristics and values of each of my former selves, there is much to offer the current 2013 partnership – wisdom gained, lessons learned, a passion to make a difference, a love of family, valuable business and leadership experience, a commitment to personal and spiritual development, and they all have the requisite sense of humor.

The important thing is that taking these few moments to review the past from a positive, more effective view helped me to re-engage with my wonderful present reality. Writing about it makes it even sweeter.

Whenever your critical mind diverts you from your life, you must use any and all tools at your disposal to bringing your thoughts back to the present where they are the most effective. This little exercise worked for me today. Tonight I’m going to be prepared with a list of gratitudes to express as I drift off to sleep. Tomorrow I will do something else that lights me up.

Making sweet corn honey,