Looking Back

Have you ever noticed that you can’t make much progress while constantly looking back at the past? Today I was walking my miniature dachshund at the park and became very frustrated because she kept looking behind her to see if any person or other dog was approaching us. She is very fearful and neurotic and we could not enjoy the walk due to her constant fear and hesitation. I thought about how often in life we do the very same thing. We are trying to move forward in our lives but we keep looking back at the past so we struggle to make progress. 

I am so guilty of this because I am very introspective and am constantly dissecting and analyzing my past failures and failed relationships for what I did wrong and how I might do it differently next time. Being a counselor I realize the value in looking into the past to improve the quality of the present but there is a limit as to how long and how often we should continue to examine the past. Is your past holding you hostage? It is if you find yourself there more often than not. We should reflect upon our past: our life growing up, past relationships, past failures, only as long as we need to glean the lesson from it which will help us going forward. 

  • If we made mistakes, we must learn from them, forgive ourselves and move on.
  •  If relationships ended, we should acknowledge and own our part of the breakdown and move forward into new relationships. 
  • If we experienced failures in any area of life, we should reap the benefits of the knowledge gained and let it go.  

If we want a future:  new dreams, new goals, new friendships and relationships, new successes, we have to turn away from the past and focus on the future. Just as they often put blinders on horses, in order to keep them from looking from side to side, we must focus on our goals.

Human nature makes this difficult but it is possible. 

As Paul says in Philippians 3:13-15: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. [ Following Paul’s Example ] All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. Focus on your goals not on your past and you will succeed in meeting them.

I heard someone say that we should consider the size of the windshield of our car compared to the size of the rear view mirror. This does help with prospective. Look back when needed but focus on what is ahead of you. Keep your eyes on the prize! Keep your eyes, your mind and your feet moving forward and you will reach your destiny.



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Solitude

Is it possible to be alone and yet not be lonely? Yes, it is. We have so gotten away from the idea of spending some time with our own thoughts and we have paid a price for it. Often, we are so busy and so entertained that we don’t feel comfortable being left alone with our own thoughts. All of the major philosophers and thinkers encourage us to spend some time alone. God encourages us in the Bible to take some time alone with him. Jesus often left the crowd to be alone with God and his own thoughts.

Spending time alone allows us to meditate and clear our mind. When we have decisions to make being alone allows us to think through our options. When we need to listen for direction and guidance from God we often need to be alone. Being alone allows us to enjoy our time with others more. While introverts need time alone to refocus and return to their center, even extroverts can benefit from time alone. Being alone and turning off the television and/or computer helps us to reframe our focus and is similar to rebooting your computer. We can let go of the thoughts that have us stuck. We can remember thoughts that we have forgotten in the clutter and chaos. We can focus on those thoughts that require our attention.

Give yourself the gift of some time alone. You will be glad you did and you may find that you are able to take care of something which you have forgotten or neglected. Your mind and body will thank you and you will enjoy the people in your life even more.

All men’s miseries are derived from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone. Blaise Pascal