It is so easy to go through life holding onto the past. To the things that we wish we had done. We replay the negative things that have happened to us. In our minds, over and over again, we re-live the traumatic experiences. We relive the regret. The guilt. The worry.
The problem is that when we look in the rear view mirror all the time, it takes our attention away from the good things we have coming our way! When we are so busy beating ourselves up for past mistakes, we don’t have time to look forward to the future opportunity. When are eyes are focused on the rear view mirror, on the past that is behind us, on the things that have already happened, we can’t look ahead to the future.
Here’s the deal. Our past is a part of life. Good or bad, we can’t change it. So why do we keep looking back there and re-living it?
The key is to not hold on to it. Recognize that re-living it is not beneficial, it’s not moving us forward. We have to shift our focus to the windshield view. We did our best at the time with the information we had, and all we can do is our best again in the future.
A while back I met a friend’s grandmother at a baseball game who was 97 years old. She was dressed impeccably, beautiful with hardly had any wrinkles, and she was full of joy. As I started chatting with her, I realized she was sharp minded and funny. She didn’t miss a beat. I asked her what her secret was to living such a long, happy life. She said, "I don't worry, I let things go, and I laugh a lot". She's lived by the idea of looking in the windshield. She doesn’t hold on to past mistakes. I have to imagine that in almost a hundred years of living, people have had to have hurt her, she's had to of made mistakes, but she hasn't held on to them. She looks through the windshield window not the rear view mirror, and this has kept her young and strong.
We can’t continue the mistake of looking back. If we do, we will get bitter, live guilty, with a chip on our shoulders. That's going to keep us from seeing the bright future we have coming our way. We may not be able to keep bad things from happening to us or for the fact that we will make more mistakes, but we can keep our focus forward.
Instead of going through life looking in the rear view mirror, down on ourselves, living in regret, we can look through the windshield. We can't do anything about the past. But we can do something about right now. Being against ourselves doesn't help us do better. It pushes us down.
Instead of looking in the rear view mirror and reliving the past, why don't we forgive ourselves? Why don't we empty out the guilt? Why don't we turn off the accusing voices? How much space are we going to give to guilt, to shame, to regret, to being against ourselves? Whatever it is, it's too much.
If we give space to our pasts, to the guilt, we won’t have the confidence we need to move forward. That will cause us to fail again. It's a negative cycle. The only way we can break it is to rise up and say, "That's it. I am done looking in the rearview mirror, living in the past, focused on my mistakes, reliving my failures, beating myself up. This is a new day. I'm looking through the windshield with great expectations about what’s to come."