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The Mirror as Big as the Windshield

When talking to people, I often sense they are living in the past so deeply that they cannot be successful in the present or future. This is not a judgment but an acknowledgment of how the past can be destructive in our daily lives.


It is natural to reflect on the past and often a beneficial part of my experience. It helps me learn from my mistakes, cherish good memories, and understand how I've grown. However, when looking back becomes a preoccupation, it can significantly interfere with how I perceive and engage with my present and future. This excessive fixation on the past can manifest in various ways, impacting our lives differently.


I call it "Driving my car with the rear-view mirror as big as the windshield."


What would that be like? There is no telling what opportunities I would not see and miss. There is no telling what I would be running over. This is an excellent metaphor for looking back at my life.


Dwelling on past mistakes or failures can lead to a pervasive sense of regret. Regrets can become a heavy burden, coloring my present experiences with a shade of sadness or dissatisfaction. When I constantly dwell on my past errors, I trap myself in a cycle of self-criticism and negativity, which can stifle my willingness to take risks or try new things for fear of repeating past mistakes.


Idealizing the past can be equally detrimental. Nostalgia, while comforting, can sometimes lead me to view my past with rose-colored glasses, making my present seem lackluster in comparison. This idealization can create unrealistic standards for my current life and future aspirations.


Unresolved past conflicts or traumas can cast long shadows over our present and future. I need to address these issues to avoid finding myself stuck in patterns of behavior and thought that stem from these unresolved experiences. Focusing on the past can negatively affect my relationships, career choices, and overall well-being.


How big is your rear-view mirror?


Watch for the blind spots.

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