Do you spend a lot of time reminiscing about the past? If the answer is yes, that’s okay. Thinking fondly about the past and looking back at the way things used to be isn’t a bad thing until it is.
There is a difference between thinking about the past and living in it. Sometimes we live in the past because it’s familiar — we know what happened; there are no surprises. Think about why you watch your reruns of your favorite old sitcoms over and over again.
This is what happens when we live in the past. We choose to live there because it’s familiar. We know everything that happened. When the past was really good, you can live there because just thinking back on it gives you a feeling of comfort and happiness.
I spent eight years in the Army and am proud to have served my country. I have a friend who also served and although he has been separated from the military for many, many years, he still lives there. Every story he tells is about his days in the military; every situation or scenario that is currently happening is compared to the “good old days” being in the service.
Think of the middle-aged guy you know that always talks about his days as a high school football player; the mom with three kids that talks incessantly about her days as a college gymnast; the retired executive that relives over and over again her days as the head of a Fortune 500 company…
If you find that you are clinging to a specific period from your past because you don’t feel there is anything in the present or future that could possibly better, and if thinking about the past in that way actually makes you sad, you may be stuck in the past.
Why is this a problem?
Living in the past is a problem because it robs you of the opportunity to enjoy the present. Not enjoying the present? If you aren’t happy where you are, living in the past won’t help! Living in the past allows you to avoid dealing with issues in the present…
While some people live in the past because they don’t want to deal with the present, others live in the past for fear of what may come in the future. Just like watching that favorite old sitcom you’ve seen 100 times, looking back on your life doesn’t bring any surprises. Even if some of the past isn’t good, it is, at least, predictable.
The future is fraught with uncertainty: What will happen to us, to our family, to our career? And one of the scariest things to contemplate about the future is, what if the best days are behind us?
What if nothing in the future will ever feel as good as what has happened in the past? …
If you are fearful of the future, there are a few things you can do to help you move to a healthier and more optimistic place…
Negative events of the past can make it hard to live in the present. Troubling memories can make it hard to sleep or get through the day. There will come a point at which you must let go of the past or it will define your future. And yet, we always carry our pasts with us in the ways we think, talk, and perceive the world. Managing this can feel like a tightrope walk without an end in sight. By taking things step-by-step and keeping your mind open, you can come to accept your past as part of yourself…
Choosing to live in the past or the future not only robs you of enjoyment today, it robs you of truly living. The only important moment is the present moment. With that goal in mind, consider this list of ten tips below to start living your life in the present…
4 thoughts on “Living in the past leaves you unprepared to deal with the future”
Great post, if more people would not live in the past it would certaintly be nice!
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Sometimes we get stuck in the past. It’s understandable. And sometimes, your brain needs this time to heal. But the future always comes, and being unprepared can cause even more pain. If you want to enjoy life, I think that means living in the present. 🙂
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Do you know Tom Paxton’s song ‘You should have seen me throw that ball’ ?
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That gentleman has had a very long career. 🙂 I haven’t heard the song, but I just read the lyrics. And some of the lyrics from his other songs, too. I like this one:
“If The Poor Don’t Matter”
If the kids are hungry
But there’s nothing to eat,
If the baby has a fever
But there is no heat,
If they’re living in a Chevy
As the world walks by,
If the poor don’t matter,
Then neither do I.
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