“The longer we keep looking back in the rearview mirror, it takes away from everything that’s moving forward.” – Dan Quinn
Life is a grand adventure, full of a mixture of both the good and the less than stellar moments that make up our memories. While our past is part of what built us, helping to shape us into the person that we are today, it is important that we learn how to recognize and honor that role in our lives.
Far too often we find ourselves fixated on the past for too long, recycling and reliving memories from a traumatic event or a time of stress or negativity. Doing so will only serve to trap us in the same continuous cycle of stress and depression, denying us the opportunity to heal and move forward with our lives.
Looking back upon our past isn’t entirely negative. It can be an effective and valuable means of self-reflecting, allowing us to learn about ourselves, the nature of our reaction to various situations, patterns of behavior and gaining an overall understanding of why we do what we do. The important thing to remember is that you are looking back on it as a means of research and evaluation, not to step back into the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that surrounded that period of your life.
Here are 6 situations in which it would make sense to reflect upon your past.
- To Remind Yourself Where You Are Going
There are times in life that you find ourselves so caught up in the moment and the present challenges that you are facing, that you lose touch with the bigger picture including the goals that you have set for yourself in life. Reflecting upon your mission in life will allow you to realize when you are becoming distracted, getting sidetracked from the path you have set out to travel.
- To Encourage Yourself to Practice Empathy
At times, you will find yourself in situations where you wish that you could genuinely assist those that you care for while they are struggling with their own challenges in life. While you may not be going through anything similar in the moment, reflecting upon life may allow you to recall a time that you were faced with a similar obstacle. This will improve upon your ability to empathize with their current situation.
- To Recognize and Break a Negative Life Cycle
Throughout your life, you develop patterns of behavior – the way in which you handle situations in life, and react to it. These life cycles, once identified, can, in turn, be used to predict how you are going to react to situations that may occur in your life moving forward. If you find that you are making the same mistake in your life time and time again, it is time to recognize that pattern as this will allow you to, in turn, make the necessary changes to break this habit.
- To Remind Yourself of the Progress You Have Made
There are times that you look at where you want to go and can’t help but feel overwhelmed by just how much work you still have in front of you. The journey feels so long and challenging, and you begin to question your ability to make it to the finish line. It is at these moments that you would benefit from reflecting upon just how far you have come in your life leading up to this very moment. Look at the challenges you have overcome and how much stronger your life has made you. If you could accomplish all of that then it stands to reason that you can handle the challenges ahead!
- To Reflect on the Good Times
It is important to recognize that not every aspect of your path is going to be negative, in fact, a large portion of it will be memories that leave you feeling happy and nostalgic. When you find that you are struggling with the negativity of a situation in the present, it can help to recall a happier time to bring that feeling of love back into your heart. For example, if you are currently in conflict with someone that holds a special part in your heart, recall a happy time together.
- To Help You to Stay Open Minded
It is easy to become closed minded and judgemental when you shut your mind off to the world, seeing only the exact moment before you. If, however, you allow yourself to reflect upon your past this will often help you to let go of your judgment as you recall a time you, yourself, felt judged for your decisions or actions. Maybe you were never judged, however, you, yourself, know that you acted in a way that could have brought about a similar reaction to judgment and negativity? We are all human, and as humans we all make mistakes. Remembering your own allows you to be more understanding of those in your life.