Relationship Blog

Are You Living Always Looking In The Rear Vision Mirror?

Are you living in the past?

How Much Are You Living in Your Past?

Do you fear what happened in the past may repeat again? Or that you may never have a future that was as good as some moments in your past?

Living in the past (and too much in the future for that matter) can cause problems… It robs you from enjoying the present moment. From truly enjoying and being with your loved ones and most importantly from truly living your life.

Our daily routines and habits get affected by the feelings of negativity and struggles of the past that we may often carry around with us or the anxiousness we can feel toward the future. Seldom are we fully and truly here in the “now” or the present moment.

When we choose to live in the moment, it allows us to find contentment and understanding within ourselves.  Being mindful increases our self-control, it allows us to be able to regulate our own behaviour thus having a powerful effect on how we interact with others ( especially with our partner, children, family and friends).

I came across this quote from the Buddhist teachings: “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

It is true that thinking and reflecting about our struggles in the past can allow us to learn from our mistakes. But if we get caught up in the emotions associated with them, we may find ourselves getting stuck. This doesn’t help us on how to deal with any present issues that we are facing. More so if we focus on the future and get anxious every single time we think about what’s to come…we are only inviting stress into our lives which is very very unhealthy (both physiologically and emotionally). This being said, it really is essential to break the habit of being a victim of time as it will largely affect our relationship with the ones dear to us.

This topic often comes up on my weekly workshops and one-on-one discussion with my client. I suggest to them to practice being present,  to surrender to what is right here and now and that the only significant moment is the present moment. Through my years of experience with love and relationships, I have always kept a list of the things that helped me shift my mind and helped me to practice living in the moment:

  • Smile– Start your day with a SMILE 🙂 You are in control of your attitude towards a brand new day… make it a positive one. it’s a new day full of endless possibilities! Even such a simple thing to do, that I have to sometimes have to remember to smile, as my mind is often elsewhere.
  • Breathe– this induces mindfulness. There is no better way to bring you into the present moment than to be aware of your breathing. Focusing on the breath is a common meditation and stress relief technique, especially deep breathing.
  • Appreciate moments of every day– fully soak in as much of today, the sights, sounds, smell, taste, the emotions, the achievements etc… Try each day just stopping for a moment and just become really aware of life around you.
  • Learn to forgive– forgive yourself, forgive the past hurts. If you hold up resentments toward your partner or other people because of your past experiences, choose to forgive and get over it. Allowing the past to affect your mood today is always your choice. A good question to ask yourself is “What did I learn from that person?” Look for a positive learning.
  • Stop worrying– if you worry a lot about tomorrow or anything at that, you can’t truly appreciate today. Worrying gives you something to do but will definitely not get you anywhere. See where you can place your attention on what you can do, what you are in control of.
  • Dream about the future but work hard today– don’t allow dreaming about tomorrow to take over the present day. Set goals and dream BIG… focused work on your goals is the first step to actualize your dreams. See what you can do on a regular basis toward your goal if possible daily.
  • If you want an exceptional future with your significant other,  stay in the present moment with them– when you are living in the moment, it restarts your mind so that you can respond to them thoughtfully and sincerely.  They will appreciate all of you being present with them.

Do you ever feel uneasy when you allow yourself to be a victim of the past or a slave to the future?

This is the main reason why most people are prone to experience stress, anxiety, agitation and generally feeling uncomfortable in life… Be alive. BREATHE. Appreciate what is happening in the moment. It is the best gift you can give to yourself, your partner and others around you.

One question I ask is: “What would happen if you always drove your car looking in the rear vision mirror?” The most common answer is “I would crash or have an accident.”  There are so many people living their life like they are driving a car always looking in the rear vision mirror. You can always tell these people by all the stories they tell of the past, or when upset, they bring up a long list of hurts and what people have done to them.

Are you living in the past?

Do you have a favourite sports team?  If you don’t I am sure you can appreciate the analogy. The coach of your favourite team will look at the last game to see what can be learnt. Then take stock of the players and resources that they have right now, and work toward winning the next game. I am sure players will still make mistakes in the next game and there will be more learnings.

We have to start with what we already have, here and now, appreciate the past for what we can learn and apply these learnings to create a better future for yourself and those most important to you. There is a beautiful East African word that describes this, “Sankofa” which can be translated to mean “Go back to the past and bring forward that which is useful.”

My personal experience and my experience with clients is that when we find the lessons in the past and become grateful for the experience, the negative emotions, for the most part, will completely dissolve.

As an added resource, I wrote about a similar topic on my previous blog post: Who Controls Your Feelings in Your Relationship?.  You can have a read on this as I suggested a Feeling Exercise which is a great way to practice being in the moment…

So if you’ve got any questions regarding this blog or any aspect of your relaionship, why not take advantage of the complimentary 30-minute session I offer. Contact Me to see how I can help you have more healthier and happier relationships.  Until next time.

Marriage Counsellor and Relationship Counsellor - Keith Flynn

Keith Flynn BSc, Dip. Hyp.


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