History is written by the winners. A phrase I remember from my history lessons in school where I first began to realise not to take everything I hear/see/read at face value. Afterall there are at least 2 sides to every story. It was my teacher’s way of getting us to think about why a certain piece of evidence or writing may not be entirely trustworthy. For example you go to war with another country and win. You now want everybody to know that you won and how amazing you were in battle (even if all you did was sit at the back on your horse) giving you a great reputation and resulting in no-one ever challenging you again. However you face the small problem that those who you defeated may try to tell everyone a different version of event (whether true or not) so you must silence them or ridicule them so that no-one will believe them if they do try. And so begins a very one-sided version of that particular piece of history until enough time has passed that your version of events is considered correct and true as that is what has been recorded.
This has happened throughout history not just in terms of war but in other areas of life such as love, monarchy, slavery, and it could even be argued it has played a part in the oppression of women and homosexuals to a point as well as the rise of different religions – however that is another debate for another time. Today, I want to focus on how this may infact impact you on a personal level.
Ok, so I got thinking, why is it that when we look at our past that we always remember the ‘good stuff’ so much better than the ‘bad stuff’ and why can we never quite recreate those amazing moments in time?
What if this is because we, ourselves, actually write our own history from the point of view of the ‘winner’ – which is the present version of ourselves?
This would explain why you can’t really remember just how ill you were that time you were in hospital, or how every break-up feel like it’s the worst feeling in the world until the next time, or even how you don’t believe you friends and family when they tell you how bad you were when you had that bout of depression. Because you overcame it and ‘winner you’ decided that that moment needed re-writing from a more positive angle.
You could also flip that to explain why you can never quite re-create those amazing holidays, unforgettable nights out and other significant times. ‘Winner’ you has simply recorded them in an even more favourable light.
Ok so maybe I’m getting a little deep and philosophical about this, and I’m well aware that this simple concept can’t explain everything and it probably won’t be the same for everyone. But its interesting (well I think so) to think that we filter our memories to show ourselves in a better life and keep the things that make us the best version of us – or at least what we perceive the best version of us is. If, perhaps we have a more negative outlook or we have some sort of illness our best perceived version may not actually be our best version and this could help explain the negative spiral faced in many mental illnesses. However I’m no doctor and this is just some late night musings on my part so I may be completely wrong.
I hope I’ve given you some food for thought and a little insight into the random thoughts I have on a daily basis.
Until next time…