As most of you who read my blog know, I was rear-ended the end of September. I was completely stopped on I-5 and saw the guy coming in my rear-view mirror. He hit me at over 50 mph and it took me awhile to get my balance back. But that’s not the story here, just the background. When I was driving across the West Seattle Bridge yesterday and traffic was stopped & backing up, I caught myself looking behind [in my rear view mirror] as I slowed. Waiting, anticipating, bracing for another driver not paying attention or going too fast for traffic. Let me repeat that — I was looking behind as traffic was slowing in front of me. Probably not the best strategy for protecting myself from future hurt…do you agree?
But we do this in life too, right? Instead of looking ahead and turning our attention to what’s right in front of us, we’re looking behind, letting our past impact what could be happening right now. Too often, we drag around baggage that’s stealing our attention from the present. We carry these “stories” with us and translate them into what we think might happen in our future. These assumptions impair our ability to hear or listen and shape our interactions, our decisions and our self-efficacy.
Just because I got rear ended once on the interstate, doesn’t mean it will happen again. And it also does not negate the possibility of a repeat, but I can’t let one accident affect my ability to be a good driver now or in the future. Looking behind gets us nowhere – except possibly into bumper of the car in front of us. In other words, we can’t be worried about what might happen and we can’t let what has happened stop us from being our best right now.
So you’ve been hurt before? We all have. So you’ve had hard times? We all have. So you’ve tried a diet, lost some weight and then gained it back? A lot of us have been there too. We’ve started various exercise programs only to “fall of the wagon” or been in the best shape of our lives and somehow let it slip away. Things happen. We make mistakes and so do others. But looking behind serves no purpose but to impede the full potential of our present and future. If we’re always lamenting what could’ve been, reliving “the good old days” or even setting our attitude towards a self predetermined outcome of any present situation, we’re cheating ourselves out of all the great new experiences we should be creating.
Maybe your past has left you unhappy, overweight, tired, stressed or unfulfilled (or all of the above). TODAY, you have a choice. You can look back at this past and carry it with you – let it dictate your mood, define your self-image and affect your relationships. OR you can look to your future and get the most out of your life. You can look ahead while moving through life, and enjoy the moments you’re currently experiencing & creating. Right now you have that choice. Don’t let your past crash and burn into your future. Leave the past in the past and keep your eyes on the road. The road in front of you. The road you’re walking, driving, skipping, running or laughing on right now. Because that’s where the magic is happening.