Written by Lydia Ievleva | February 18, 2019


The Rewriting History intervention is a step by step imagery guide designed to recreate memories as one would have preferred to unfold; thereby creating a better template for future opportunities – increasing likelihood of thinking, acting and feeling that is more aligned with personal or professional goals, versus falling back on negative patterns of behavior and reflexive reactivity (Van Hoeck, et al., 2013). Advances in neuroscience have revealed the benefits of Mental Time Travel that involves reflecting on the past with a view to imagining a better future (i.e., Positive Prospection). Functional MRI studies have shown that images of the future overlap with same neural structure as memory. The default network for future images therefore automatically draw upon what is stored in memory (Klein, 2016; Schacter, et al., 2012). By taking more conscious and proactive control over images stored in memory and projected forward, however, we can disable the hold the past has on us, and enable a more auspicious future (DeBrigard, Szpunar & Schacter, 2013).

When there’s an image – there’s a way!


Imagine your life was a movie. What would be your highlights? What past experiences have served you well in your present life or have lifted your sense of self and others? What scenes would you rather forget? Those that have dimmed your sense of self and others? What scenes would you like to do over and replace with a new and better version?

It is no secret that past experiences shape who we are today, the choices we make, and how we perceive and react to opportunities and challenges. But what if you could virtually rewrite your history?  While actual historical events cannot be changed, with the practice of mental imagery, the default mechanism generated in your memory bank can be. Initial research suggests individuals can reset the impact of their history to their advantage – thus altering subsequent attitudes and focus of attention towards creating a more auspicious life going forward. This can range from revising the impact of traumatic events to regrets over missed opportunities, and anything in between.

Support for the Rewriting History imagery strategy is based on recent advances in neuroscience that have revealed the benefits of what is referred to as Mental Time Travel (MTT), that involves reflecting on one’s past with a view to imagining a better future by applying Future Oriented Mental Time Travel  (FOMTT; or otherwise referred to as Prospection; Klein, 2016; Michaelian, Klein, & Szpunar, 2016; Van Hoeck et al., 2013). Prospection “has become an important research topic” of late amongst neuroscientists (Van Hoeck et al., 2013, p. 561), and as evidenced by a recent 2016 theme issue (#2) of The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

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To try out the Rewriting History guided imagery – Listen to the recording.