We have all heard that we should not live in the past, it is behind us, nor live in the future, because we are not there yet, but rather we should live in the present. Well, is this statement really true? Should we ignore the past and be ignorant of the future?
This statement is meant as a reference to not dwell in the past or not to develop a fixation on trying to control our future and in the process we lose track of our present-day life and our connection with reality. It is not intended as a complete disregard of where we come from or where we are heading.
If we were to completely disregard the past, we will never improve, because we will not learn from our mistakes, not take the future into account, and we won't prepare ourselves for a better future. So, what should a person do? How can we take the past into account without dwelling in it or prepare for a future without trying to predict it? The answer is simple, it boils down to balance, perspective, and what we focus on.
Dwelling, Fixating Or Analysing
The main reason we receive the advice to not look back at the past or to stare ourselves blind into the future is because we have a tendency to become obsessed with a subject and simply put, if we overdo anything, we lose focus of the main picture, resulting in an imbalance in our lives.
Dwelling In The Past
Many of us become nostalgic when present-day challenges stare us in the face, we tend to drift our thoughts to a time when things were better. Instead of facing our current problems, we live out the past in avoidance. When we experience a traumatic event or make a big mistake, we also relive our trauma or failures over and over, breaking us down more and more every time we relive that moment, never letting go, therefore losing our present self in the process.
Fixating On The Future
We all prepare ourselves for the future, through planning and preparation in the short, medium, and long term, we strive towards ensuring we have a good future. This can be from studying to get a better job, working hard to make money and save, investing for retirement, or simply having a backup plan for something that might go wrong. Sometimes, this becomes a fixation, we spend all our time preparing for a future that we never get to experience, because when the day comes to reap the rewards, you are already fixated on the next goal to achieve. We chase goals so much that we never stop to enjoy or reflect on our achievements.
Although we should not lose ourselves in the past or future, we do however need to take it into consideration. Again, balance is key. As humans, we should reflect on the past to learn what we did correctly and what we did incorrectly and use that information to prepare us for the potential future. We must have short, medium, and long-term goals in place to ensure we are ready for the future.
By analyzing our past and predicting potential future scenarios we can use our past experiences to plan for the future. Once again, balance is key, so the best way is to set yourself a target. A time and place for everything. Instead of reliving bad memories or becoming nostalgic of better times, focus on facts and instead of chasing goals, ensure you stop and reflect on achievements.
What Is In The Past?
Learning from past mistakes, we can improve ourselves to make sure we do not repeat them. Our past is like a guide to know what to do and what not to do. We learn from it in order to be better in the present and future. We can also identify positive aspects of ourselves from the past by looking at things we did correctly and making sure we keep those vital traits.
What To Do About The Future?
We can only identify potential scenarios, but we can put things in place for an array of things. We can pursue career studies to cement our future in our chosen occupation, we can work hard to make better money, we can use that extra savings money to invest in a better future. We can ensure we have insurance in place in case of an emergency and we can ensure we build strong relationships now so that they can survive troubled times that may come. The future is all about assessing the potential risks we may face and putting control measures in place to try and eliminate them.
What Is Left For The Present?
In the now and here, we should reflect on our goals we have achieved and enjoy that which we have accomplished. We should appreciate what we have, show our love to those around us, help others and work to improve ourselves on a continuous basis. Be present in the present, now where you are, and be aware of your surroundings. Appreciate what you have, no matter how little it may be. The simplest way to understand it is to be the best you can be now. Do not postpone things for later.
Yes, we should not dwell in the past. Yes, we should not obsess over the future. Yes, we have to live in the present. But, we must reflect on the past to ensure we are better prepared for the future. The key is to maintain balance and focus on our perspective of life.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2022 Jan van Antwerp