Imagine driving down the road in your car and continually looking in the rearview mirror.
What outcome do you think that would produce?
Exactly. The most probable result would be a crash.
The rearview mirror is a handy tool that when used properly can provide an extra measure of safety. Spending too much time looking there, however, can lead to some hefty negative consequences! Simply put, you cannot drive well if your eyes are focused on the images behind you in the rearview mirror.
A good driver keeps his eye on the road, looking forward and checks the rearview only occasionally to gain perspective.
Ever found yourself looking back at “the good old days” instead of forward in your life? There is a quote by Dick Gregory that says, “The only thing good about the good old days is that they are gone.” That may contain a hint of truth, but our past likely holds some really good things that are fun to recollect. Even so, keeping our focus on them will at best keep us from moving forward in our lives, or worse, cause us to crash and burn.
We can be consumed by 2 areas of our past if we aren’t careful.
The first is successes and joys.
You may be thinking that there is nothing wrong with reflecting on the good times. You are correct. There is nothing wrong with remembering them and even gaining a little happiness from the memory. The problem comes when you stay so focused on them that your thoughts about the past is all your life consists of.
That kind of obsession can keep you from enjoying your present life and living the moment you are in, which is honestly all we have. It can also keep you from future successes.
In the songwriting world, it is like writing a one hit wonder and never writing another song. There is a frequent question asked of the writer, “Do you want to have written, or do you want to be a writer?”
If your eyes are focused on the past successes, then there is no vision for future goals.
Past painful experiences are another area we need to shift our gaze away from.
We cannot change the past. It cannot be relived or even re-enacted. If we are honest, we are even unable to tell the story exactly as it happened because we are looking back from our present perspective and not actually participating in that specific story. We don’t have to like it or pretend it didn’t happen, but we are paralyzed to move forward when we keep staring at it and wishing it were otherwise!
Byron Katy puts it like this, “When you argue with your past, you lose, but only 100% of the time.”
Brooke Castillo offers hope when she says, “You may not be able to change what happened to you, but you get to change what it means to you now.”
Learn from past, both the pain and the joys, allow it to give you some perspective, but move on. Don’t let it keep you from the possibilities of the present and the fascinating future. Being consumed with the rearview mirror and continuing to look backward could lead to a tragic, if not fatal crash.