It’s easy to become stuck in the past, mired in memories, yearning for what used to be.
It’s easy to live in the past, wondering about the woulda-coulda-shoulda and revisiting that fork in the road over and over again to ponder what might have been.
It’s easy to let past regrets, once upon a times, and if only daydreams dominate your here and now.
But what’s the point?
The past is utterly unchangeable. No matter what you do, the past will stay the same. You will never be able to wish away what’s already happened nor to undo what’s been done.
The past is also gone. Your yesteryears are gone forever. No matter how much you long to return to what used to be, you can never make it happen. It’s over.
What was is not what is.
As defeatist and sad as these reminders may be, they are true and must be accepted in order to make the most of who you are in the present time and who you can be in the future. Looking back will get you no further than it did Lot’s wife (who was turned to a pillar of salt when she looked back).
We all know this. So why, then, do we look back?
For some, looking back is a way to avoid dealing with present realities and/or future challenges. Whatever is back there is, at least, known. So we look back to blame our current lack on something that happened in our history. Or we look back because we fear that everything that comes next will pale in comparison to what used to be.
For others, looking back is a way to find validation. We can blame our past actions or the past actions of others for our current situation. Or we can justify where and how we are because something in the past affected us so profoundly. Alternately, we look back and cradle ourselves in the recollection of a time when we were more successful, more accepted, more something than we feel we are right now.
For others, looking back is a way to escape what is in front of us or around us. We put the present on hold and deny the future because we choose to live in the past. We don’t move forward because there is something there in the past that we don’t want to leave – a part of ourselves, someone we’ve lost, a time of comfort and safety. We stunt our own growth because we choose to remain where we’ve been.
What’s the harm in looking back? Only this. There’s nothing there. It’s gone. The whispers of yesterday may be alluring, but they hold no promise. It’s an illusion because what was is not what is.
There is a purpose for you today, a reason for you to look ahead. Someone, somewhere needs you now and you can’t offer anything to them if you’re not available for what is in front of (not behind) you. You have today and tomorrow and who knows how many other tomorrows to shape what is to come. Why waste that time, this opportunity, on what will never be again?
What was is not what is.
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