Question: What would it be like to drive to your next destination looking only through the rear view mirror. What would be the chances of getting safely to your destination?
If that’s true, then I’ve got just one more question for you:
“Why do we try to live our lives that way?”
Alright, I admit I sort of set you up there, didn’t I?
If you can forgive me, then consider just how often we attempt to “drive” our lives looking through the rear view mirror, wondering why we keep getting into various
At this point you might be thinking, “some people try to live this way, but I certainly don’t.”
Before you dismiss the possibility, consider some of the signs of what I call “Rear View Living.”
With a nod to comedian Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a “rear view-er” if:
- you ever catch your self saying or thinking “If only…………”
- you believe the best times of your life have already happened
- you long for “the good old days.” Will Rogers said “Things ain’t what they used to be and probably never was.”
- your motto is “I wish I woulda-could-shoulda”
- you believe with all your heart that “what might have been, would have been”
- your favorite cartoon as a kid was “Rocky & Bullwinkle” which featured the words “Sherman, set the way back machine for…………..”
- you feel chronically sad or depressed
- you tell people younger than you “these are the best times of your life”
- you actually believe it’s too late to change anything.
One objection I often hear at this point is that I have just swung a very wide net. In other words, just about every one has said, thought, or felt at least one, if not all, of the signs above.
That’s my point! We all do some “rear viewing” from time to time.
Another objection is the saying “those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” While I do believe that to be true, it’s just as true that “those who focus only on the past are just as likely to repeat it.”
Now let’s shift our focus, and identify some key strategies for living life “looking through the windshield.”
- realize that much like the saying “we each have been given one mouth and two ears, to be used in proportion,” there is a very good reason that cars are built with the windshield much larger than the rear view mirror. Hint: “to be used in proportion.”
- do two very simple, yet very powerful things with the past:
1. Make a place for it. The past did happen, and acting like it didn’t sets you up to be surprised when the past comes back to bite you on the butt someday
2. Put it in it’s place, which is behind you. Much like a chapter in a book you once read, and don’t care to read again.
- give up our belief in the cliche that “time heals all wounds.” Oh bull! Time is simply neutral. I’ve worked with people who experienced severe trauma and are doing well in a relatively short amount of time. I’ve also worked with people who experienced virtually the same trauma many years ago and still feel as if it happened yesterday. All time does is pass. What we do while time passes is the difference that makes the difference.
- install these two keys beliefs in your life:
1. “Of course we can’t change history, but only the part that’s in the past. It’s the history we’re making that interests me.” –
2. “The best way to predict the future is to create it”
Whether we live a “rear view mirror life” or a “windshield life” is up to us. It’s simply a matter of choice and shifting focus.