Tip of the Week
Tip: You’d better look back!
It is the popular opinion of some teachers or motivational speakers these days that you should never look back into your past. They often say, “Forget about your past and focus on your future!” They believe that looking back bogs you down and could be a negative, useless experience. They believe it is better to be positive as you look to your future.
If you know me very well, you know that I tend to be a positive person. I try to always look for the good, the pure and the positive in every situation I encounter. Zig Ziglar once said, “I am so optimistic that I go after Moby Dick in a row boat and take the tartar sauce with me!” That’s a worthy goal and one that I try to pursue.
While I agree that we should be positive and not be trapped by our past, let me share a few reasons why I think it is important to take the time to look back at your life.
Establish a frame of reference – If you ever go to a counselor or therapist, one of the first things they will do is to explore your past. They want to know about your family of origin, your childhood, and the major events that you have encountered in your life because they want to get some perspective of your frame of reference. Someone once wisely noted, “By your fruits you shall know them, but by your roots you shall understand them.” It is important to know the roots of a person to see why they view life the way they do.
Reframe your past – I believe the most important reason to look back at our past is to reframe it; to recognize that things didn’t happen to us, as much as they happened for us; to shape us and make us into who we are at this moment. It is a lot like working out at the gym. If you lift weights, your muscles will respond to that resistance and will begin to get stronger and look more well-defined. In the same way, challenges in life tend to push us, mold us and cause us to grow and become stronger.
Deal with unresolved issues – Unresolved issues left unattended breed bitterness and unforgiveness, which can eventually turn into physical distress. Someone has said that being angry and frustrated with another person is like you drinking poison and expecting the other person to die! That just makes no sense, yet all of us have been guilty of doing it at one time or another. If there are unresolved issues in your past, it would be wise to recognize the power of forgiveness. When you forgive, you are able to release the person who wronged you. You are no longer their slave!
Accept your past – By accepting the past, we come to a place of peace. Everyone has difficult situations in their life; no one remains unscathed. You may not be able to change what has happened to you, but you can make peace with it and learn from it by recognizing that everything has happened to bring you to this moment to help you be the person you have become. And, you can allow those things that have occurred to become stepping stones to your future rather than stumbling blocks from your past. Once you have “done business” with your past, then you are free to really let it go.
Refuse to be defined by your past – Those who allow their past to define them get stuck in life and find it difficult to move forward. It is important to recognize that you are not defined by your past, but you are prepared by your past. It has prepared you in more ways than you can imagine. However, if you want to grow, it is necessary to have a shift in your mind and focus in order to move into the future without carrying a lot of baggage with you.
So, as you move toward your future, don’t be afraid to look back. Our past can be a source of great wisdom in teaching us what to do as well as what not to ever do again! Allow yourself some reflection time this week to look back on your past. Feel it, embrace it, accept it, forgive it, and then release it. You will be amazed at the freedom you feel and will be able to rise to a whole new level of life!
Tip: You’d better look back!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm