Keep It Straight Ahead
Focusing on the past with false fondness or regret can get any of us into trouble.
Looking back can make it seem as if a missing piece of our life is gone for good. If we have lost someone or something we really cared about, it’s easy to feel as if our lives will never be the same. We can feel cheated and robbed -- our emotional wellbeing deeply compromised.
With time, and the healing balm that it can bring, we learn to move on. And with this forward movement comes real recovery.
Here are just a couple of reasons why focusing on the past can hurt us now:
Focusing excessively on the past makes us feel powerless. It changes our ‘locus of control’ to the external, that which is beyond our power to influence -- surrendering it to yesterday, yesteryear. Longing for the good old days is tantamount to admitting things aren't really so great now and might not change. But they will change -- provided we invest in the present and work towards a better tomorrow.
Constantly gazing at yesterday, we let our life slip away, becoming blind to the great opportunities that exist outside the window of today.
Dwelling on the past means that we dishonour the present and the people who are in our lives now. When our energy is focused on bygone days then we may be unable to give the attention needed to those who are in our life now. This can have some disturbing consequences.
Of course it’s fine to occasionally re-visit the experiences of the past, but we were not meant to live there. It’s easy to give up on today, to fail to appreciate what’s really in front of us, if we make the past seem too grand or important.
Be honest about the difficulties you've had to face and overcome in order to become who you are now. Accept that life's lessons come at a price, and some are more costly than others. You have learned. Take this learning forward with you; you are wiser now. Celebrate that wisdom.
Once you have learned the lesson of your mistakes, then let regret go. Send it packing into the past, where it belongs, and move forward with your life. Recognise that you did the best you could, given the person you were and the information available to you at the time. Like every other human being, you are a work in progress. Acknowledge the path you’ve travelled, the experiences you’ve had, and the lessons you’ve learned. Remember to be thankful for all that you have, for all that there is in your life today.
The wise person avoids steering through the rear-view mirror. When we look forward through the wind-shield of life, then we are on the right course -- we enlarge our vision of fresh, new possibilities.
Your journey is well under way. Keep it straight ahead. You will make it.
‘You go on. You set one foot in front of the other, and if a thin voice cries out, somewhere behind you, you pretend not to hear, and keep going.’
-- Geraldine Brooks